Catie – Chip and Co http://www.chipandco.com Disney Theme Park & Movie News, Disney World & Disneyland Planning Tips, Disney Dining Reviews and More! Sat, 10 Dec 2016 02:53:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.1 http://www.chipandco.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/512-icon-54ced060v1_site_icon-32x32.png Catie – Chip and Co http://www.chipandco.com 32 32 7800472 Disney DIY – Holiday Time Fun with A Disney Twist http://www.chipandco.com/disney-diy-holiday-time-fun-disney-twist-254609/ http://www.chipandco.com/disney-diy-holiday-time-fun-disney-twist-254609/#respond Mon, 05 Dec 2016 18:11:21 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=254609 It’s December, and you know what THAT means – CHRISTMAS season is upon us! The turkey has been carved, the stuffing demolished, and now it’s time to get in that Santa-Y spirit! If you think it’s too early to turn on the Christmas Pandora – just remember- Holiday decorations at Walt Disney World have been […]

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It’s December, and you know what THAT means – CHRISTMAS season is upon us! The turkey has been carved, the stuffing demolished, and now it’s time to get in that Santa-Y spirit! If you think it’s too early to turn on the Christmas Pandora – just remember- Holiday decorations at Walt Disney World have been up since early November! So, that proves that it’s not too early to deck the halls – DISNEY style of course!

Check out my Disney Christmas DIY’s to help get you started:

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These Super festive Mickey (And Minnie!) Christmas Ball Ornaments would make the perfect addition to your tree!
(Directions courtesy of Dolled Up Design

Supplies
Plastic Christmas Balls (2 small “ears” and 1 large “head” for each ornament)
Sharp knife and cutting board
Permanent marker
Hot glue gun
Bows – for Minnies!

Directions

1. Using a sharp knife, begin by cutting the ornament hanging ends off each of the smaller balls. This will allow your ears to sit flat onto the “heads”.
2. Using a permanent marker, mark out two small spots equal distance from the hanging part of each large “head” ball. My balls had a line running along the middle that I drew mine along so everything was nice and even.
4. Run a bead of hot glue around where you trimmed off the pieces on the “ear” balls. Stick onto the “head” where you have marked out each of the spots with the marker and hold until glue has adhered.
5. If making a Minnie ornament, hot glue a small bow between the ears.
5. Hang and Enjoy!

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These Adorable Stockings could not be easier (or more affordable!) to make – a few bucks each and you have a super cute stocking to hang by the chimney with care! Just grab some felt (I recommend the stiffer sheets of felt for the head/ear portion as they will stand up more easily on their own) and your glue gun and get crafting!
Personalization tip: Use puffy paint to write out each person’s name on the upper white portion of the completed “Mouse” Stocking

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Ok, so here’s a kid friendly (edible!) craft that is perfect for winter (and for Frozen lovers!) – plus it makes the perfect holiday party activity! And bonus – they could not be easier to put together!

Olaf DIY Snowman Kit
(Directions courtesy of The It Mom

Ingredients (for each baggie):
2-Pretzel sticks (Arms)
2-Raisins (Eyes)
1-Candy corn (Nose)
1-Large marshmallow (Lower body)
1-Medium marshmallow (Upper body)
White icing (to glue it all together)
*Get the printable topper for the baggies here

Directions:
Allow them to use their creativity skills to build their own snowmen. I would start with removing the contents from the plastic bag and encourage kids to create their snowmen on top of the plastic bag (trust me, it’s easier and quicker to clean up this way).

Want more?
Afterward, grab a white plate or white poster board and sprinkle white powdered sugar around it and place the snowmen for display! You can even take it a step further by bringing out the Legos to create their own city or neighborhood they can build around their snowmen.

Ok – so I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to crank up the Christmas tunes and get crafting! Tis the season, after all…

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The “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” Of Doing Disney World in ONE Day http://www.chipandco.com/dos-donts-disney-world-one-day-252214/ http://www.chipandco.com/dos-donts-disney-world-one-day-252214/#respond Sat, 26 Nov 2016 15:31:26 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=252214 If you’re traveling to Orlando for vacation and are planning on spending only one day at Walt Disney World, then you will want to come armed with a strategy. WHY do you need a strategy, you might be wondering? Well, the reason is – there is SO MUCH to do and see at Walt Disney […]

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If you’re traveling to Orlando for vacation and are planning on spending only one day at Walt Disney World, then you will want to come armed with a strategy. WHY do you need a strategy, you might be wondering? Well, the reason is – there is SO MUCH to do and see at Walt Disney World that your instinct will be to try and cram it all into that one day. RESIST that urge – trust me – you will be much happier if you slow down, and use these tips.

Here’s my list of “Do’s and Don’t’s” for doing WDW in one day:

Do’s:
Research: Especially if this is your first time to WDW, you will want to do some reading up on the different rides, theme parks, shows, and food you will find at Disney. There are plenty of places to do this research – my personal fave being the chip and co website of course! And there are tons of great guidebooks out there, and the official Walt Disney World Site is helpful, too

DO Plan: Once you’ve done some research and reading up on all that Disney World has to offer (which is a LOT!), you can make a rough itinerary for your day at WDW – read more on that here. In addition to picking out which parks and rides you want to hit, I also recommend you make an ADR for at least one meal (ADR stands for Advance Dining Reservation – read more about that and why it’s important here

DO Prioritize: This goes hand in hand with planning – Let each person in your family pick their one MUST DO ride/attraction, and if you can, try and get a fastpass+ reservation for most/all of them. And keep a mental (or real!) list of everyone’s second choices – and try and do them if time permits. Make sure everyone – especially the little ones – know that they might not get to ride everything they want to ride, and prepare them for that ahead of time to avoid park meltdowns!

DO Pack Smart: No one is thrilled about the idea of lugging a bag around all day, but when you’re visiting Disney World there are some things you just HAVE to bring along with you – and to tote them I recommend a backpack with decent padding on the shoulder straps. Ponchos are a must have (one time use versions can be purchased at the dollar store), as is sunscreen, a refillable water bottle, snacks (things like trail mix, nuts, hard candies, granola bars, and pretzels are good choices), a small first aid kit (stocked with normal first aid items, and also with some over the counter pain meds and tums, too!) , and a spare pair of socks (your feet will sweat a lot in the Florida sun and heat – gross I know, but a smart thing to pack nonetheless!). Read more about packing for Disney here

Don’t’s
DON’T Over Plan: I mention planning and an itinerary in the “Do” section – and while I wholeheartedly believe in the benefits of both of those, I caution against overdoing it. Don’t plan out every minute of every day, and leave some room for spontaneity! Be realistic, and be flexible when it comes to checking off items on your Disney “to do” list

DON’T Try To Do It All: Is it physically possible to do all 4 theme parks in one day? Yes…but do I recommend it? NO WAY! It would be way too much to try and cram in, and you wouldn’t have any time to slow down and enjoy the fact that you’re at the most Magical place on earth! So I recommend you choose one or AT MOST two WDW theme parks to visit, and focus on enjoying the rides, shows, and atmospheres at each of them!

DON’T Skip the following items: sunscreen re-application every hour, hydration, and wearing comfortable sneakers for your day at Disney (seriously –as much as you may want to slip on those flip flops, your feet will be hating you by noon for it)

Follow these tips, and your day at Disney will be the most magical day ever!

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Take Your Love on a “Disney Date Night” To Disney Springs! http://www.chipandco.com/wdw-planning-take-love-disney-date-night-disney-springs-251477/ http://www.chipandco.com/wdw-planning-take-love-disney-date-night-disney-springs-251477/#respond Thu, 24 Nov 2016 15:28:35 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=251477 There’s nothing better than a date night with your other half – except a date night in DISNEY WORLD – being out as a couple in the Happiest Place On Earth is such a treat, and if you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity – seize it! Disney Springs is the perfect setting for your […]

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There’s nothing better than a date night with your other half – except a date night in DISNEY WORLD – being out as a couple in the Happiest Place On Earth is such a treat, and if you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity – seize it! Disney Springs is the perfect setting for your Disney Date Night – check out all the options for making it a perfect night with your love:

Dining: There are some great places to eat at Disney Springs, places to suit every budget and taste! If you’re looking for more of a romantic, intimate spot – then I recommend checking out the amazing food at atmosphere at Portobello Country Italian Trattoria – where you can dine on the waterfront patio or in the beautiful dining room, and choose from a menu full of fresh seafood, wood-fired pizzas, and of course – pasta! You’ll find more of a lively atmosphere at Raglan Road Irish Pub (a personal favorite of mine – with its authentic Irish cuisine and live music and Irish dancing!) and Paradiso 37 – where they also have live music nightly, and offer unique varieties of rums and tequilas. Another option would be to check out the food trucks – setup daily on the west side, you will see a variety of trucks offering some amazingly mouth-watering meal options

Entertainment: Once dinner is done, you can move on to one of many different entertainment options available right in Disney Springs. There’s a movie theater, bowling alley, DisneyQuest (an indoor interactive theme park), La Nouba (Disney’s exclusive Cirque Du Soleil spectacular), and live music/shows available at various locations throughout the area. Personally, I love to just stroll around and take in all the sights and sounds of the night life at Disney Springs, it’s the perfect place for a moonlit romantic stroll!

Shopping: While many of you might not consider shopping a fun “date night” activity – I do, and you just might too – after you see just how many unique and fun stores/shops are waiting for you in Disney Springs! There are obviously plenty of stores that sell Disney merchandise (as to be expected!) but there are also plenty more that sell clothes, jewelry, art, and so much more – it’s worth a look, and who knows, you might find something perfect for your date!

Disney Springs is a great place to be any time of the day, but it really comes alive at night, which makes it a perfect spot to have a “Disney Date Night” any night of the week!

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Do Disney Like A Boss With These WDW Pro Tips http://www.chipandco.com/disney-like-boss-wdw-pro-tips-250379/ http://www.chipandco.com/disney-like-boss-wdw-pro-tips-250379/#respond Tue, 01 Nov 2016 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=250379 Walt Disney World is a BIG place – 4 Theme Parks, 2 Water Parks, Resorts, Restaurants, Shops – etc (I could go on but I won’t!). With that much going on, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all that there is to see/do/experience, and if you aren’t prepared, a trip to WDW can easily turn […]

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WDW Pro Tips

Walt Disney World is a BIG place – 4 Theme Parks, 2 Water Parks, Resorts, Restaurants, Shops – etc (I could go on but I won’t!). With that much going on, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all that there is to see/do/experience, and if you aren’t prepared, a trip to WDW can easily turn into a stressful time – and who wants that on vacation? I know I don’t! Take my advice – save time and headaches with my WDW Pro Tips:

Plan Ahead: One of the most important WDW Pro Tips is to do some research ahead of time – Order your free Disney Planning DVD, and check out a guidebook or two. And of course utilize online information about the Parks and Resorts – sites like Chip And Co are of course great, and the Disney World Site can be helpful too. Now I’m not suggesting that you have every minute of every Disney Day planned out in advance – but a rough itinerary is pretty useful, and it can help you get the most out of your time at WDW. If you aren’t much of a planner – I still implore you to at least utilize the Fastpass+ and Advance Dining Reservation Services that Disney offers – they are both free, and can help you save a TON of time waiting in line for rides, and for food too!

Don’t Try To Do It All: I mentioned not over-planning, but you also want to be conscious of not “over-doing” it while at WDW, too. When you arrive through those Park gates, it’s easy to get overwhelmed – the sites, the sounds, the smells, the atmosphere, the MAGIC – it’s a lot to take in, and even though you may get the urge to sprint ahead and ride EVERY RIDE RIGHT THEN – resist it. Trust me – that urge will just leave you tired and cranky, and you will be MUCH better off if you take it slow, stroll instead of sprint, and take the time to take in the details of everything around you. I also recommend a mid-day break – lunchtime is the perfect time to leave the Parks and head back to your WDW Resort for lunch and a nap or some pool time. It may seem nuts to leave all the Park action right in the middle of the day, but trust me – a break will help recharge and refuel you so that you can head back to the Parks for dinner and an evening of fun! Plus – lunchtime and early afternoon is when it is SO HOT at the Parks that it can be a recipe for disaster – sunburn, dehydration, and tantrums galore can be easily prevented by retreating back to your Resort

And speaking of Resorts…

Stay on Site: You will want to stay at a Walt Disney World owned Resort to get the most out of your trip – for several reasons. One being Extra Magic Hours – which allows ONLY guests of WDW Resorts into a Park an hour early or access to a Park an hour after closing time each day, and another being their Magical Express shuttle – which brings you and your luggage to and from the Orlando airport to the doors of your WDW Resort (and it’s free!). For me though, probably the biggest perk of staying on site is just being IN the magic the WHOLE time – the amazing service from the cast members, the fact that I can just hop on a bus/monorail/boat and be at the Parks in minutes (no car, parking lot fees, or parking tram required!) – it’s all part of the perks of staying on site at WDW

Pack Smart For The Parks: Do NOT walk out of your hotel room empty handed – as there are some items you will DEFINITELY be wanting to bring along with you to the Disney Parks. First and foremost – sunscreen – the good kind (high SPF), and you will want to make sure you are applying it OFTEN – whether it’s sunny OR cloudy. Another must have item is refillable water bottles – I like to bring my own from home and fill it at my Resort with water and ice, and I also like to make sure I am refilling it often (ie – that I am DRINKING the water). The Florida sun is no joke folks – it’s big, bright, and HOTTTT – and even if you’re used to sun, it can really be a fun killer – so just bring your sunscreen and water bottles every time you leave your Resort (trust me!). Other items I like to make sure I bring to the WDW Parks are – assorted snacks/hard candies, and spare camera batteries, and ponchos and Ziploc baggies to protect myself (and my valuables!) in case of a sudden downpour – which happens pretty often in Orlando

Try Something New: Remember how your mom always said “Try it, you’ll like it” at dinner time? Well, that doesn’t just apply to broccoli and Brussel sprouts – as vacation is the perfect time to step out of your comfort zone and try a roller coaster, or a big water slide, or some new or unique cuisine too! Seriously though – eat all the food when you’re at Disney – it’s amazing, and it goes way beyond your standard “theme park food” – I literally have never tried something I didn’t like

Hopefully these “WDW Pro Tips” can help you breeze through the hard parts of planning a vacation and allow you to enjoy every minute of being at the Happiest Place On Earth!

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Do it yourself Disney Caramel Apples! http://www.chipandco.com/disney-caramel-apples-249520/ Mon, 10 Oct 2016 13:30:11 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=249520 There are some truly iconic Disney Movie Foods out there – from the Spaghetti and Meatballs in Lady And The Tramp, to “The Grey Stuff” From Beauty And The Beast – what would those scenes be without those foods? Food really can be an integral part of a plotline or story (believe it or not), […]

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There are some truly iconic Disney Movie Foods out there – from the Spaghetti and Meatballs in Lady And The Tramp, to “The Grey Stuff” From Beauty And The Beast – what would those scenes be without those foods? Food really can be an integral part of a plotline or story (believe it or not), and if you’ve ever wanted to be able to recreate these dishes in your own kitchen, then YOU’RE IN LUCK – because there are actually lists out there Like This One – that make it easy to Disney-fy your menu!

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One of my favorite parts of Mary Poppins is this scene where Bert, Jane and Michael are sitting and enjoying their caramel apples at the races, and when I saw the recipe included on the list, I knew I had to go for it. Check out how I recreated these awesome treats:

Caramel Apples
(Recipe Courtesy Of Lil’ Luna

You Will Need:
-Apples!
-Sticks (Skewers Or Lollipop sticks work well, I actually searched for “apple sticks” on amazon and that’s how I found mine!)
-Brach’s Milk Maid Caramels – 1-2 pounds (depending on how many apples you’re wanting to coat – Brach’s recommends allowing approximately 9 caramels per apple)
-2 Tbsp water per pound of caramels
-Assorted Toppings – sprinkles, crushed oreos, crushed candies (like M & M’s), chopped nuts, etc
-White Candy Melts

Directions:
1. Wash apples (to remove off wax so caramel sticks better!)
2. Remove stems and add skewers/sticks (sticking them approx. 1-2 inches into the apple)
3. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

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4. Melt Caramels and water together over a double boiler
OR – alternately, Melt caramels and water by continuously stirring on LOW heat in a medium
Saucepan
NOTE: You may want to melt the caramels one bag at a time because you want the caramel to stay hot for the
entire process (It starts to cool after awhile which can make the apples harder to dip in it!)

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5. Dip cold apples in caramel, and place back on parchment paper. Refrigerate again.

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6. Dip in melted chocolate or white chocolate and dip in candy or sprinkles.
7. Refrigerate again and take out half hour before serving.

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You can really make this your own creation – with different color candy melts, different toppings – my best friend and my son really loved helping create (and EAT!) these amazing treats!

Personally, I am a huge Caramel Apple fan – I love in Upstate New York and love to pick my own apples and then turn them into amazing treats – and what is more amazing a treat than dipping a freshly picked, crispy tart apple in SUGARY sweet caramel?

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And if you aren’t lucky enough to be able to grab one of the amazingly intricate ones they sell at the Disney Parks, then you should try out this recipe for yourselves!

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Top Disney World Theme Park Dining Spots http://www.chipandco.com/top-disney-world-theme-park-dining-spots-248633/ Mon, 26 Sep 2016 14:59:27 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=248633 Last week I wrote about my picks for Top Disney Springs Dining Spots, and it got me to thinking more about Disney Food…oh who are we kidding, I am almost always thinking about Disney Food – there is just so much of it and it’s all so amazing! But when it comes to picking the […]

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Last week I wrote about my picks for Top Disney Springs Dining Spots, and it got me to thinking more about Disney Food…oh who are we kidding, I am almost always thinking about Disney Food – there is just so much of it and it’s all so amazing! But when it comes to picking the best of the best, there are definitely some that stand out above the rest.

So read on to find out my Top Disney World Theme Park Dining Spots:

Magic Kingdom

  • Crystal Palace: This is hands down my favorite place to eat in the Magic Kingdom (maybe even in all of WDW!). It’s a buffet that serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, and it’s also a CHARACTER meal – Winnie The Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore circulate for hugs, autographs and photo ops while you dine on some deliciously fresh eats. Pooh’s Breakfast Lasagna is a must have for breakfast, and you’ll want to make sure you grab some fresh roasted meats from the carving stations at lunch and dinner. It’s a hit for those of all ages – great food, great characters, and it’s in a GREAT location too right on the main drag of Main Street USA!

Epcot

  • Sunshine Seasons: You’ll find this fast-casual dining spot over in Epcot’s Future World – right inside the Land pavilion. I think what I love about this is that when most people think of “fast” food, things like burgers and chicken nuggets come to mind – but that is SO NOT the case here. You can smell the Rotisserie chickens the second you walk into the ordering area, and you can see the chefs bustle around as they prepare salads, Asian stir fry, southwest chicken wraps, and so much more. There’s a huge variety, and everything is fresh and made to order
    Pro Tip – try and eat here at an “off” time (ie – not right at the NOON lunch rush) to avoid the huge crowds

Hollywood Studios

  • Starring Roles Café: I’ve got two words for you: BAKED GOODS. And if you’re thinking “ok, well, a cupcake can’t be a meal” – then not only are you WRONG, but you have also obviously never grabbed a bite at Starring Roles! Their bakery case is truly a sight to behold – I must always resist the urge to order 3 of everything (1 of everything is plenty!), and once I get my food, I can people watch from the adorable outside terrace/seating area. Sandwiches and assorted sushi are on the menu for lunch and dinner, but like I said – the true “Star” here is the bakery case – the Butterfinger Cupcake is a personal favorite, but they have plenty of other stuff too – turnovers, tarts, croissants, muffins, cinnamon rolls, and so much more! My advice is to skip lunch and go straight to Starring Roles for dessert

Animal Kingdom

  • Tusker House Restaurant: Another character meal has made my list of top picks – what can I say – I’m just a kid at heart, who loves pairing character hugs with outstanding cuisine (nothing wrong with that, right?). Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served here buffet style, and you’ll find a lot of typical American fare, but they also serve up a lot of African inspired dishes – the Bobotie is a must try, as are the assorted rice/salad dishes. It’s a great place to try something new, for sure. Oh – and Donald and pals are there too – dressed in their safari gear! It’s a great chance to get some unique photos with characters for sure!

As always, I highly recommend you utilize ADR’s (or Advance Dining Reservations for any and all table service meals – and for those of you unfamiliar with that process, click here for more info!)

Now that I have shared MY faves with you, I would love to know what YOU think – where do you love to eat at each of the WDW Parks?

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Top 5 Ways To Make Your Disney World Vacation More Magical http://www.chipandco.com/top-5-ways-make-disney-world-vacation-magical-245859/ Mon, 19 Sep 2016 13:08:21 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=245859 Walt Disney World Family vacations are a ton of fun, and the perfect way to make memories that will last a lifetime! Of course – in addition to fun, it might also be stressful, expensive, and time consuming to plan and execute a family trip to a place like Walt Disney World. But fear not! […]

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Walt Disney World Family vacations are a ton of fun, and the perfect way to make memories that will last a lifetime! Of course – in addition to fun, it might also be stressful, expensive, and time consuming to plan and execute a family trip to a place like Walt Disney World. But fear not! I have compiled this list of tips to help you make your Disney Vacation less stressful and more magical:

Know Before You Go: Disney World is a BIG place FULL of things to do, see, and eat. So, you’ll want to brush up – do some research (chip and co is a great place to start, plus the Walt Disney World official website has useful info too!), check out what rides and attractions you and your family might like, and look at some maps to get a lay of the land. There are plenty of great Guidebooks out there too, with a lot of in depth information and reviews to help you plan

Book Fastpasses: For those of you who don’t know, fastpasses are a way for you to avoid (some of) the long lines when waiting for popular rides/attractions. You can book them ahead of time, and can pre-select up to 3 per day. Let your family help too – and give them each a chance to pick at least 1 must do ride/attraction that you can book a fastpass for. Learn more about how fastpasses work here, and for the record – I HIGHLY suggest you take advantage of the ability to pre-pick some rides, because any time you DON’T have to spend in line can be used for other fun stuff (like obtaining delicious Mickey shaped snacks, for example)

Use ADR’s: This is another service Disney offers that I HIGHLY recommend you take advantage of. ADR stands for “Advance Dining Reservation”, and it is a way to essentially “pre-reserve” sit down meals at the Disney Parks and Resorts up to 180 days before your vacation. It isn’t a traditional “reservation”, but more like a “call ahead” where you arrive at a set time and are put next on the list for a table. These are basically NECESSARY for many of the more popular character meals, so if you have character lovers in your family – you better make sure you’re on the phone or online exactly 180 days before your trip to make those ADR’s for Mickey and the Princesses! I know it may seem NUTS to make reservations for a restaurant 6 months before you go on vacation, but trust me – it’s just something you need to do, as the days of just walking up to a WDW restaurant and hoping for an open table are OVER – ADR’s are the wave of the future, so you should definitely take advantage and book as many as you can!

Stay On Property: There are about a million places to stay in the greater Orlando area – and while many of them offer amazing lodging and plenty of amenities – for me, there’s no better place to stay than right in the magic, at a Walt Disney owned Resort Hotel. Not only are you as close as you can possibly be to the WDW Parks, but you’re able to take advantage of some other perks too. One of the BEST ones is Extra Magic Hours – where each day one of the parks stays open late an extra hour, and one of the parks opens up an hour early too ONLY for guests staying at WDW Hotels. It’s a great way to ride your favorite ride again and again with little to no wait, or to get some great photos in an almost empty Park

Let Disney Do The Driving: Don’t bother with a rental car – if you’re staying at a WDW Resort you really don’t need it, and even if you aren’t, many of the nearby hotels offer daily shuttles to the Disney Parks – so if I were you, I would sit back and let Disney do the driving! Once you’re on WDW property, you can take advantage of their transportation options – including monorails, boats, and buses to get you from place to place. And they even offer free shuttle service to the Orlando airport if you’re staying at a Disney hotel too – the “Magical Express” brings you to and from the airport and even takes care of checking your luggage for you too (another perk of staying on property…it’s starting to sound pretty good, isn’t it?)

If You Need Help – ASK: You will not find better customer service anyplace, seriously – Walt Disney World employees are the nicest, most helpful people ever – so don’t be afraid to ask for directions, or assistance with anything you might need while at the Parks or Resorts. They are super knowledgeable, and if they can’t answer your question, they will promptly find someone who can. No one expects you to memorize a Disney guidebook before your trip – so rest assured knowing that Disney Cast Members are always there to help fill in the blanks and make your trip the best it can be!

Did I miss any? Let me know in the comment box below.

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Top 6 Disney Springs Dining Spots http://www.chipandco.com/top-6-disney-springs-dining-spots-247312/ Mon, 12 Sep 2016 13:26:48 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=247312 Dining at Disney World is a true foodie’s dream come true –there’s always something new and delicious to try, and one of my favorite places to eat while at WDW is Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney!). Check out my picks for Top 6 Disney Springs Dining Spots: Sit Down Restaurants: The Boathouse: This new restaurant […]

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Dining at Disney World is a true foodie’s dream come true –there’s always something new and delicious to try, and one of my favorite places to eat while at WDW is Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney!). Check out my picks for Top 6 Disney Springs Dining Spots:

Sit Down Restaurants:

The Boathouse: This new restaurant is perfect for seafood lovers as well as boat enthusiasts, too – while you dine at this waterfront spot you can check out the vintage boats from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s on display. And the menu is ever-changing to allow the chefs to take advantage of the freshest seafood available! Steak, lobster, oysters, calamari, and fish tacos are all on the menu plus a TON of other options too

Wolfgang Puck Café: While this is not a “new to Disney Springs” restaurant, it is certainly a mainstay and an institution in my book! The sign has the quote “Live, Love, Eat” on it – and those are really embodied within the restaurant itself, where you can tell the innovative food is prepared with care and the freshest ingredients. Sushi lovers will really enjoy the offerings, as will pizza lovers – they serve up pies topped with Italian meats, barbeque chicken, and more. The best thing on this menu for me though is a toss-up between the bacon wrapped meatloaf and the roasted chicken entrees

Raglan Road: You can’t ever go wrong with a traditional Irish Pub – and this one delivers nothing but fantastic food in a relaxed, fun atmosphere. Live Irish music and dancers keep you entertained as you wait for your food and drinks – plenty of beers, wines and cocktails to choose from here! The menu is full of amazing dishes – bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes), shepherd’s pie, Guinness beef stew, and so much more. I have eaten here several times, and it is just the best – a true gem!

Quick note about the above restaurants: As with any sit down meal at Disney, you’ll want to do your best to make an ADR (or Advance Dining Reservation) for them in advance to ensure that you are able to partake in these amazing dining spots!

Quick Meals:
Earl Of Sandwich: There are few things better than the smell of freshly baked bread – which the Earl is baking up daily for his mouth-wateringly delicious sandwiches – Holiday Turkey (featuring stuffing and cranberry sauce!), Caprese, buffalo chicken, and tuna melt to name a few. Oh – and don’t forget to grab a brownie sandwich for dessert as they are filled with frosting (and who doesn’t need a frosting sandwich in their life?). One of the best parts of this spot is it’s pretty reasonable price wise, and usually pretty speedy too

Food Trucks: Assorted food trucks park on the West Side of Disney Springs starting around lunch time daily, and while it’s not always the same trucks each day, you can be sure you will find some amazing meal options either way. The Namaste Café truck offers up freshly made naan, samosas, butter chicken, and tandoori shrimp; while Fantasy Fare serves classic dishes like corn dogs, chicken strips, and buffalo chicken and waffles. The great thing about grabbing a bite here is the variety – there’s something for everyone, and always something new and unique to try (for those adventurous eaters out there!)

Snack Attack:
Ghiradelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop: You can smell the house made hot fudge and freshly baked waffle cones as you approach this dessert spot, and it’s enough to lure you right in (well, it is for me at least!). The menu is full of delicious ice cream sundaes and assorted lattes and other coffee beverages as well (including the classic Ghiradelli hot chocolate!). You can also purchase assorted packaged chocolates to bring home with you (and if they don’t make it all the way home, that’s ok too, I don’t judge)

Check out the official Disney Springs Dining Site Here for the most up to date list of offerings so you can plan which ones you’ll eat at next time you’re in Disney!

I would love to know which Disney Springs Dining Spots Top YOUR list, too!

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Top 5 Tips For Keeping Cool at Walt Disney World http://www.chipandco.com/top-5-tips-keeping-cool-walt-disney-world-245090/ http://www.chipandco.com/top-5-tips-keeping-cool-walt-disney-world-245090/#comments Sun, 07 Aug 2016 12:05:54 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=245090 Ok, so, in case you didn’t know – aside from Disney World being the happiest place on earth – it is also at times the HOTTEST place on earth – that Florida sun can be brutal – and if you aren’t used to it, you can easily get: dehydrated, sunburned, heat stroke – or all […]

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Ok, so, in case you didn’t know – aside from Disney World being the happiest place on earth – it is also at times the HOTTEST place on earth – that Florida sun can be brutal – and if you aren’t used to it, you can easily get: dehydrated, sunburned, heat stroke – or all 3.

Which is why you will want to follow my Top Tips For Keeping Cool at Disney World:

HYDRATE: I cannot stress this one enough – drink a TON while you’re out in the sun – and not just soda or juice or sports drinks – I am talking specifically about good old H2O here folks – make sure you always have a couple of water bottles handy (one for each person would be ideal), and make sure they are filled at all times, oh – and make sure you are actually DRINKING the water, too. I like to bring my own Nalgene-style water bottle from home, and fill it at my resort with water and ice before I leave for a day at the Parks. Obviously other drinks are great too, but nothing helps you stay hydrated like water – and you will be doing a lot of walking (and potentially a lot of sweating too….)

Put A Lid On It: Wear a hat. Even if you think you look silly in hats (like my husband) – trust me, there is nothing worse than a painful sunburn on your scalp – that hurts, then itches….just avoid it altogether and wear a hat, and hey, bonus – there are plenty of hats to choose from at WDW – including tons of Mickey Ear hats! Speaking of sunburn – you will want to slather every inch of visible skin with sunscreen, too – like hourly when possible. You may think I am being overly paranoid, but trust me I am not – that Florida sun can really beat down on you, and while it’s a pain to re-apply the stuff that often, it’s well worth the effort, as a bad sunburn can really ruin a vacation

Hang Out Inside: Obviously you will spend the majority of your time outdoors when at Disney World, but there are some ways to beat the heat by escaping to the indoors. Utilize the indoor seating when eating at restaurants, and shop as much as you want (indoor stores = air conditioning!). I also recommend you take advantage of the indoor rides/attractions at the Parks too – check out my top 5 indoor attractions here

Take Breaks: Don’t be so busy running around trying to see and do it all that you forget to relax and take breaks – after all you ARE on vacation, right? Find a shady spot to sit and re-hydrate and re-apply that sunscreen every hour or so, and take a break from the Parks altogether when the sun is the hottest – right around lunchtime and the earlier afternoon hours. Head back to your >a href=http://www.chipandco.com/category/park/res/>WDW Resort for lunch and a dip in the pool, or relax in your room and take a nap – either way, by dinner time you will be ready to head back out to the Parks for more fun in the (slightly less hot) sun!

Bring Along Your Own “Cool Tools”: Obviously you will be heading to the Parks armed with multiple water bottles full of nice cold water, but you can also bring a few other items along from home to help beat the heat. A Chilly Towel or two is a definite must – these are awesome little towels that you can wet with just regular tap water, and as that water evaporates the towel magically cools and is a great thing to wear around your neck while waiting in line for rides. The Parks sell handheld fans that you fill with water and can then mist yourself with, but they are pricey – so bring one along with you, they can be purchased online (like from Amazon)

Aside from helping you and your family stay healthy, these tips for keeping cool while at Walt Disney World will also help make you happier and more comfortable overall – and that’s pretty important when you’re on vacation, am I right?

OH – and one more tip – you will want to make sure you’re eating plenty of popsicles and Mickey Bars. Partly because they are nice cold treats, but also because they’re just awesome!

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Top 5 Disney World Rides You NEED A Fastpass For http://www.chipandco.com/top-5-wdw-rides-you-need-a-fastpass-for-227985/ http://www.chipandco.com/top-5-wdw-rides-you-need-a-fastpass-for-227985/#comments Mon, 01 Aug 2016 12:00:19 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=227985 There’s a lot of planning that goes into a Walt Disney World vacation these days – and thanks to technology – it’s all online and easier than ever! Researching places to stay, places to eat, and Park rides and attractions can be done entirely online, your trip can be booked online, and then you can […]

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There’s a lot of planning that goes into a Walt Disney World vacation these days – and thanks to technology – it’s all online and easier than ever! Researching places to stay, places to eat, and Park rides and attractions can be done entirely online, your trip can be booked online, and then you can make dining reservations online too! In addition to making ADR’s ahead of time, you can also plan out your fastpasses before you even arrive at the Park! No Fastpass kiosk or tickets needed – it will all be loaded onto your Magic Band (along with your room key, ticket information, dining reservations, and credit card info)

So if you’re deep in that “planning” stage, and you can’t decide which rides to use your precious Fastpass+ selections on…fear not! I’m here to help, with my top five picks for rides you NEED a fastpass for:

  • Test Track: Located in Epcot and sponsored by General Motors, there are 3 parts to this experience. First, you enter the pre-show area where you “design” your test vehicle (this part is newer and was added when the ride was redone in 2012), and then you board your test vehicle and take it through a track where it goes through tests for: capability, efficiency, responsiveness, and power. You get to see how well your car fares against varying weather conditions, and (my favorite part!) how well it does on the speed test! After the test, you exit into a Chevrolet showroom of current and concept vehicles – and true to Disney standards, it’s also a gift shop, where you can even buy a car! This has always been a popular ride, but ever since the refurbishment, it has become even MORE popular with waits stretching beyond the 120 minute mark on busy days – which is why I have deemed it a Fastpass MUST (especially for all car enthusiasts – which I have a few of in my family)
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: Magic Kingdom’s newest attraction opened less than a year ago in May 2014, and it’s newness is the main reason I would make sure I reserved my Fastpass for this one. Another reason is that I LOVE roller coasters, and this one is unique – it uses new technology to make you feel the tilting and swaying that would occur in a real mine cart. The queue is interactive too – with games and fun things to see. It’s more of a “family” themed roller coaster, and for that reason it has been EXTREMEMLY popular – and if you don’t want to risk the long Standby line, Fastpass is the way to go!
  • Toy Story Midway Mania: This Hollywood Studios attraction is based on old time carnival games, where the story is that Andy gets a new carnival play set for his birthday, and as soon as he leaves his room for dinner, his toys decide to give the games a go! A pie throw, egg throw, darts, basketball throw, ring toss, and shooting games are the current features here, and you experience them while wearing 3D glasses and riding on spinning vehicles. This is a WILDLY popular ride for kids (and really, for adults too!) and the wait at any given time is over an hour and I have seen it stretch way beyond that – so if you’re looking for a ride the whole family can enjoy – I suggest you book a fastpass and head to the carnival!
  • Peter Pan’s Flight: This one is a classic – one of my personal favorites, and I am obviously not alone, as the wait time is often 90 minutes or more! When it’s your turn to take flight, you board a “pirate ship” that flies over Peter Pan and his adventures in Neverland. The ride takes place mostly in the dark, which I love because it really is like you’re being transported to a new, wondrous place! Mermaid Lagoon, Hook’s ship, Wendy walking the plank, Pan battling Hook – you see all that and more throughout your adventures. Like I said – it’s classic, and little ones may not understand the story or theming, but getting to “fly” in the ship and see all the different scenes is something those of all ages can enjoy
  • Space Mountain: Another “classic” ride – it’s actually Florida’s oldest operating roller coaster, as it’s been open since January 1975 (40 years wow!). As the name suggests, it’s a space-themed ride, where you board a spaceship and “blast off” into outer space! It’s a fast ride with lots of turns and drops in the dark – where you can see the stars, asteroids, and other rockets, with a soundtrack of “space like” sounds (as well as other passengers screams – mostly of delight). It was Magic Kingdom’s first “thrill” ride – and it continues to thrill and excite to this day, where the wait can span anywhere from 30 to over 120 minutes. On Christmas Day, I saw the wait time for Space Mountain was – no joke – 180 minutes, and while that may seem like a lie – it’s not. Trust me – you’ll want to fastpass this one FOR SURE

My “Must Fastpass” Picks are based mostly on the average wait times I have seen/experienced at the Parks, so your top choices may vary – but at least this gives you a place to start in planning out your Fastpass+ picks.

Here’s hoping that you can use my recommendations to help avoid some really long wait times next time you’re at Disney World!

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Make your own Dole Whip Cake at home! http://www.chipandco.com/make-dole-whip-cake-home-244500/ Sat, 23 Jul 2016 11:30:40 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=244500 Some genius, somewhere, took the iconic Dole Whip dessert that we all know and love and turned it into a cake. I will admit – I was skeptical at first, like “Is that REALLY going to translate well into cake form?” well – the answer is YES. Not only does it translate well, but it’s […]

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Some genius, somewhere, took the iconic Dole Whip dessert that we all know and love and turned it into a cake. I will admit – I was skeptical at first, like “Is that REALLY going to translate well into cake form?” well – the answer is YES. Not only does it translate well, but it’s delicious, too!

Check it out:

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Dole Whip Cake
(Recipe Courtesy of Dole)

Ingredients
1 can (20 oz.) DOLE Crushed Pineapple 1 box (2¬layer) white cake mix
1 cup plus 5 tablespoons all¬purpose flour, divided
1¬ 3/4 cup sugar divided
3/4 plus pinch teaspoon salt, divided
4 egg whites
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ¬1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, divided
1¬ 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
1 can (6 oz) DOLE Pineapple Juice
1 cup whole milk
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature and cubed
1/2 cup boiling water
1 box (4 servings) pineapple flavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1¬ 1/4 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed

Instructions
Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray two (9¬inch) round baking pans with cooking spray and line with parchment or wax paper.

Press crushed pineapple through a sieve to drain well, reserving the juice. Juice should measure about 1¬1/3 cups. Set aside. Add pineapple to food processor and process until pureed. Set aside.

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Combine cake mix, 1 cup flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add egg whites, oil, 1 cup yogurt, 1 teaspoon vanilla, reserved juice, and half of the reserved pineapple puree. Mix with a hand mixer for 2 minutes.

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Divide batter between prepared baking pans. Bake for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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Meanwhile, heat pineapple juice to boil and add gelatin. Stir until completely dissolved. Add cold water and stir to combine. Allow to cool to room temperature. Fold in remaining 1/2 cup yogurt and whipped topping until well blended. Cover and chill until set, about 1 hour.

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Combine remaining 5 tablespoons flour, 1 cup sugar, and milk in a small sauce pan. Whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a simmer. Continue to cook and whisk for 3 minutes, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Beat in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, pinch of salt, and butter one cube at a time, ensuring frosting is smooth. Fold in remaining pineapple puree.

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Spread filling over bottom layer of cake. Top with second layer. Spread frosting over cake. Chill cake for at least an hour before serving.

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It got an enthusiastic seal of approval from my little Mickey lover!

It’s tropical, it’s moist and flavorful, and best of all – its reminiscent of those hot sunny days at Disney – so if you’re looking for the perfect dessert to bring along to a summer cookout or BBQ, or if you’re just looking for a reminder of just how delicious those Dole Whips are – then I suggest you give this recipe a try.

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Is staying off site better than staying at a Disney World Resort Hotel? http://www.chipandco.com/staying-disney-world-resort-hotel-vs-off-property-244321/ Wed, 20 Jul 2016 11:30:59 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=244321 I am normally a huge advocate for staying on property at a Disney Resort Hotel when I visit Walt Disney World – it’s way more convenient and closer to the Magic – but truth be told, sometimes those conveniences/perks of staying on site aren’t exactly free…and now that I have a family of my own, […]

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I am normally a huge advocate for staying on property at a Disney Resort Hotel when I visit Walt Disney World – it’s way more convenient and closer to the Magic – but truth be told, sometimes those conveniences/perks of staying on site aren’t exactly free…and now that I have a family of my own, I am seriously considering staying off property (GASP! Shocking, I know…)

Read on to discover some of the perks of staying somewhere other than a Disney World-owned Hotel:

More Space: There are a TON of Hotels and Resorts near Walt Disney World, and many of them offer a wide variety of room sizes/styles – from standard rooms, to suites, multi-bedroom apartments, villas – there are so many options to choose from! For example check out this special the Disney Springs Resort hotels are running.  In addition to hotels, there are TONS of vacation houses, condos, and townhomes in the Orlando area that are available for rental through sites like airbnb.com and homeaway.com. Whether you’re traveling to Florida alone or with your kids and husband, or your friends or extended family – there are places of every shape and size out there for you to stay in – many with separate bedrooms/bathrooms so you can have some privacy and a chance to relax (after all, you are on vacation!)

Dining/Diet Flexibility: Walt Disney World offers some of the most delicious food I have ever tasted – and I have been lucky enough to dine in many of their restaurants (and am working on trying out the rest!), and would eat there all the time if I could afford to! The prices overall are not awful, and the service is always amazing, but if you stay off site, you can really save a lot of money on food. If you stay at a place with a kitchen, you can head over to a nearby grocery store (there are plenty in the area!) for whatever you want to cook up – at a much lower cost than buying a similar meal in the Walt Disney Parks or Resorts. You can also do what Chip does and use Garden Grocer. And if you are on a special diet for whatever reason, having your own kitchen and the ability to prepare your own meals would come in VERY handy. Even just purchasing some snack items/drinks at the store to bring along to the Parks can save you and your family a bunch of money (not to mention having snacks on hand can help fend off meltdowns – always a plus in my book!)

COST: This is for real the biggest perk to me – if I can save money on my lodging budget, that means I can allocate those funds elsewhere – more souvenirs, more character meals – or even another day or two at the Parks! Once you step offsite, the prices of hotels/Resorts/rental properties drops dramatically – and there are deals up for grabs every day on sites like Travelocity.com, or hotels.com – you just have to look for them! There are a bunch of hotels within walking distance of Disney, and a bunch more that offer free shuttles to the Disney Parks. Of course, there are places that are too far for walking or don’t offer shuttles, so the best thing to do in that case is rent a car – and even when you factor in the rental cost, gas, and parking at the Parks, you still can have a decent savings over the cost of a WDW Resort. Not to mention – having a car makes it easy to run to the store for more food/diapers/snacks, and it gives you the option of checking out places other than Disney World while in the area.

Bottom line is – if you want the comforts of home while you’re on vacation like privacy, multiple bathrooms, a kitchen/the ability to cook, space to hang out/relax – you just won’t get these on WDW Property without paying an arm and a leg, and staying off property gives you the chance to have all this and more at a much lower price

I have stayed on property at WDW many times – so I know firsthand what I would be missing out on by staying off property: the Magical Express service, Extra Magic Hours, and yes we would lose out on some of that Disney Magic too – but for someone on a tight budget whose kid might be a bit too young to fully appreciate what staying “on property” entails the first time he visits Disney, I have to say, off property is looking more appealing by the day for my family!

What about you – have you stayed off property, or are you strictly a WDW Resort family?

Let us know your experiences in the comment box below.

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Disney World Resorts – Tons To Do, All In One Place! http://www.chipandco.com/disney-world-resorts-tons-one-place-231244/ http://www.chipandco.com/disney-world-resorts-tons-one-place-231244/#comments Fri, 08 Jul 2016 23:00:33 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=231244 Don’t be so quick to rush off to the Disney World theme Parks every day of your Disney vacation – spend some time at your WDW Resort– there’s tons to do! Personally, my family and I like to designate one day as a “Non-Park Day” – we sleep in, relax, and enjoy all that is […]

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Don’t be so quick to rush off to the Disney World theme Parks every day of your Disney vacation – spend some time at your WDW Resort– there’s tons to do! Personally, my family and I like to designate one day as a “Non-Park Day” – we sleep in, relax, and enjoy all that is available to us right outside our Resort Room door!

Swimming: Every WDW Resort has multiple pools – most have a “main” pool, where you’ll find plenty of seating, a fountain or slide or something similar for the kids, a baby pool, and of course plenty of swimming space as this tends to be the largest pool at the Resort. There are usually a few other smaller pools scattered around the Resort grounds, which tend to be quieter and more laid back

Shopping: Many of the same souvenirs you see in the Parks can be purchased right at your Resort’s gift shop. Calling it a gift shop makes it seem like a small little place – when in reality most of them are huge and carry a huge variety of items – from jewelry and apparel to tech accessories, pins, toys, plush, and some necessities too – like first aid items, medicine, wine/liquor (hey, some people consider those vacation necessities!), etc. Why not shop close to home instead of buying stuff at the Parks and then having to carry it around all day? I prefer shopping at the Resort – less crowded, and a great selection!

Dining: Every Disney Resort has at least 1 place to eat right on property (many have more than 1!), and these are no simple “grab-n-go” packaged food places either. We are talking fresh, unique, delicious food – much of which you would never be able to find at the Parks. From pizza, to plenty of kids meals, to sushi and gelato, to every class of bottled beverage – they carry it all – so if you’re planning on eating all your meals at the Parks, you might want to re-think that strategy, and plan to check out what’s on site at your Resort

Playing: Playgrounds and play areas are a part of all the Walt Disney World Resorts, so if you’re looking for a way to entertain your little ones (and yourself!), head out for a leisurely walk around the Resort – you’ll find the aforementioned playgrounds and play areas, and you may discover even more cool stuff – like hammocks, statues, walking trails, and more! Some Resorts even rent out bikes, canoes, peddle boats and other watercrafts – which means playtime for the adults, too!

Moral of the story is – don’t underestimate your WDW Resort, and take advantage of all they have to offer (which is a lot – trust me!)

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Top 5 reasons to stay “On Site” at Walt Disney World http://www.chipandco.com/top-5-reasons-stay-site-walt-disney-world-243132/ Mon, 27 Jun 2016 15:00:14 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=243132 I have always been a big fan of staying at Walt Disney World’s on site Resorts – for MANY reasons. If you’re planning a WDW trip and you aren’t sure if you want to stay on site or off site, maybe these Top 5 reasons to stay “On Site” at Walt Disney World will help sway […]

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I have always been a big fan of staying at Walt Disney World’s on site Resorts – for MANY reasons. If you’re planning a WDW trip and you aren’t sure if you want to stay on site or off site, maybe these Top 5 reasons to stay “On Site” at Walt Disney World will help sway you:

Magical Express: Disney provides free shuttle service from the Orlando airport to all WDW Resort Hotels – and they will even grab your luggage from baggage claim for you and bring it to your room! Return service is also provided, and they can help with checking bags when you are headed back home, too. In my opinion, this is one of the best perks of staying at a WDW Resort – as it eliminates the following questions: “should we rent a car? How will we get to the hotel? Where is baggage claim? Where are our bags?, etc – you get the idea. It just is one less thing to have to worry about, plus you get to start the “Disney experience” early – at the airport, when you reach the Magical Express desk and there’s a smiling Disney cast member waiting to greet you – you can let out a sigh of relief and let the Mouse take it from there!

Top Notch Service: I mentioned that smiling cast member who greets you at the Magical Express – well – that’s just the beginning. WDW Resort employees are amazing – polite, efficient, knowledgeable, and they will really go above and beyond to make sure your stay is as magical as possible. They are always there with a smile and a helping hand, and it honestly might seem like this is impossible – you’re probably thinking “can people be THAT helpful/happy all the time?” and the answer is YES – they can, and they are. They can answer almost any question you have, and if they don’t know the answer – they will make sure they find you the person that does. The smiles on their faces really make a difference in helping you feel relaxed and happy – which you should be, since you’re on vacation (you deserve it!)

Resort Food RULES: Each WDW Resort has on-site dining available, and we aren’t talking just some lame continental breakfast either. Freshly prepared hot meals using only the best ingredients is what you will find at these dining spots. All Resorts have some sort of “Quick Dining” location – where you can grab both fresh and pre-packaged snacks/meals, and many Resorts also offer a variety of sit down restaurants too – seafood, steak, sushi, burgers & sandwiches, pasta – there’s something for everyone, and the beauty of it is that you don’t even have to leave your hotel to get it

Extra Magic Hours: Each day, one of the 4 Walt Disney World theme parks opens one hour early or remains open up to 2 hours after regular closing time – and the best part is, only people who stay at WDW Resort Hotels are allowed to take advantage of these extra park hours. So that means shorter lines and fewer crowds for you early birds (or night owls), and the chance to experience more rides (some twice or more in a row if you’re lucky!) and attractions. I have also gotten some pretty amazing pictures of Cinderella’s Castle thanks to Extra Magic Hours – it’s a great perk that’s definitely worth waking up early for

Being IN The Magic: There’s nothing quite like waking up and knowing that you’re IN WALT DISNEY WORLD – it’s just such a unique experience, and staying at a WDW hotel makes it just that much more special and magical! There’s transportation available at all WDW Resorts to all of the theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs – most is bus transportation, but there are also boats and monorails at select Resorts. Some Resorts are even close enough that you can walk right to the Parks – can’t get much closer to the Mouse than that!

Hopefully these perks have helped convince you that staying at a Disney World Resort Hotel is the way to go – because who doesn’t want to make their vacation even better by staying right in the middle of all the action? I know I do!

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Top 4 Tips for Meeting your favorite Disney Characters at Walt Disney World http://www.chipandco.com/top-4-tips-for-meeting-your-favorite-disney-characters-at-walt-disney-world-240141/ Thu, 23 Jun 2016 11:44:13 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=240141 One of the best things about traveling to Walt Disney World is that you can get the chance to rub elbows with some of the most famous characters ever – we’re talking Mickey & Minnie, Anna & Elsa, and so many more, too! Character meet and greets are a super important part of each day […]

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One of the best things about traveling to Walt Disney World is that you can get the chance to rub elbows with some of the most famous characters ever – we’re talking Mickey & Minnie, Anna & Elsa, and so many more, too! Character meet and greets are a super important part of each day my family spends at the Disney Parks – and I’m betting they will be for you, too! It can be overwhelming, not knowing where the characters might be or how your little one can get to meet their all-time favorites, but you needn’t worry – help is here!

Here’s our Top 4 Tips for Meeting your favorite Disney Characters at Walt Disney World:

Technology Is Your Friend: Let’s be real – you use your smartphone all the time anyways, you’ll have it out a lot to take pictures while you’re in Disney, so you might as well use it to help you meet characters, right? You’ll want to download the My Disney Experience app well in advance of your trip, so you have time to get used to it and play around with its features – and one of the best features of the app is the Character locater – just click on the “Characters” tab from the main screen and up comes an alphabetical list of characters and the times/places that you can meet up with them. As if that isn’t amazing enough, you can even sort by location so you can view the Characters for the Parks you’re currently at, or plan ahead for the day too!

Character Meals Are A MUST: For those of you who are unfamiliar with Character Dining, let me school you real quick – it’s basically a meal where you get to meet anywhere from 3-5 characters all in one place – and the best part is – they come to YOU! That’s right, pretty much all character meals (with the exception of Mickey’s Backyard BBQ), follow the same pattern – where the characters circulate from table to table, and for most places it takes about and hour and a half to get to see all the characters. Word of warning if you’re new to character dining: these restaurants can be loud and crowded – but you shouldn’t let that deter you from planning to eat at these places – as they can be truly amazing experiences! Character meals allow you to be treated like royalty and meet all the Disney Princesses, or join the Fab Five (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto) at Mickey’s place – Chef Mickey’s. So if nothing else, you’re getting a chance to meet multiple characters in one place, while enjoying a delicious meal – and that’s what we call vacation multitasking at its finest!

The Waiting Game: Even if you come armed with a strategy and have a list and plan out when and where you’re going to meet up with your “must see” characters, be warned – it may not go totally as planned. You might miss a character due to a delay at another ride, or you might end up still waiting an hour in line to see a character (even if you planned ahead!). So the best planning advice I can give you is to plan on doing some standing around and waiting – take that chance to practice patience, and make sure you bring along some snacks/drinks, and maybe a few new little toys or books to occupy your kids (or you!) while you inch forward towards the main attraction – whoever it may be! And remember – it will all be worth it when you see your little one’s face light up when they see Mickey for the first time (trust me!)

Be Prepared: I swear, the main reason the lines to meet characters move so slowly is because people are not ready when it finally is their turn – and there’s nothing more frustrating than watching someone fumble with their camera and waste everyone’s time even more when they should have already been ready to go. So – don’t be that guy. BE PREPARED – Have your camera ready with the right settings and the lens cap off (or have your smartphone’s camera open and ready to fire away), Have your autograph book open and your pen uncapped. Ask your kids what they want to say when it’s their turn and practice it with them if needed. All of this might sound a bit silly, or even like it should be common sense – but believe me it is NOT – so save everyone (and yourselves!) some time and practice good character etiquette to help keep the line moving and reduce the wait times for everyone else

Back in the day (and we are talking the early 90’s here), my family traveled to Disney World every spring – and my dad was our planning guru. He was truly a master of character meet and greets – he knew where they would be, and made sure I got to see every character I could. His method? Well, he always made sure to grab the most updated park maps/schedules as soon as we arrived, and he made sure to study up on them so he could have an idea of what to expect, and if all else failed, he asked a Cast Member, and that advice still rings true today – the staff at Walt Disney World can answer pretty much any question you might have, and they always do so with a smile!

Meeting up with your favorite characters doesn’t have to be hard, and if you follow my tips above, you’ll be sure to have some amazing character interactions on your next trip to Walt Disney World!

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Choosing The Best Disney World Value Resort For Your Family http://www.chipandco.com/choosing-best-disney-world-value-resort-family-242217/ Sun, 19 Jun 2016 12:23:03 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=242217 When it comes to picking a Walt Disney World Resort, the choices can be a bit overwhelming – as there are more than a dozen amazing on site hotels to choose from! Over the years, I have been lucky enough to stay at many of them, and while I love them ALL, I have to […]

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When it comes to picking a Walt Disney World Resort, the choices can be a bit overwhelming – as there are more than a dozen amazing on site hotels to choose from! Over the years, I have been lucky enough to stay at many of them, and while I love them ALL, I have to say, for my family, the Value Resorts make the most sense for our needs.

If you’re trying to figure out what Resort is right for you, then you will want to read on for the lowdown on the WDW Value Resorts:

“What does “Value Resort” Mean?” – Well, as the name implies, these are the cheapest Hotel rooms on Walt Disney World Property – there are 5 of them total, with prices ranging from $100-$200 a night (lower prices during “non-peak” times, and during holidays/weekends the rates would be higher). The rooms are on the smaller side, and have either two double or one king bed. One slight drawback to this “Value” category is that the hotels themselves are the furthest from the Disney Parks. They are still on Disney World property, but it takes a bit longer to get to the Parks than a more expensive hotel would (as the more expensive ones are closer, naturally). Overall, the Value Resorts are perfect for you if you plan on using your hotel as just a place to sleep, and are a great way to save some money, too!

Similarities: There are some things that all WDW Value Resorts have in common – they are all HUGE – which means that while it may be easier to book a room here than at smaller Resorts, it also means the buses, food court, and Resort itself might feed crowded at times, and it also means that your room might be a 10 minute or more walk to the bus stops/food/lobby (of course, Disney lets you pay more to book a “Preferred” room closer to the main pool/lobby should you choose to do so). All Value Resorts have multiple pools, with a pool bar adjacent to the “main” pool. When it comes to dining, you’ll find a “food court” like eatery at all Value Resorts, where different stations offer different types of food (Italian pasta/pizzas, salads/sandwiches, ice cream/gelato, etc) and are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and well into the evening, too). They all offer bus transportation to all the Disney Parks and Disney Springs – and Disney is really good about sending extra buses right away if there are long lines to board

Themes: The main difference between each of the Value Resorts is that each of them has their own unique theme, which is carried on throughout the lobby, rooms, pools, and hotel grounds. There’s All-Star Movies (think giant movie reels), All-Star Sports (giant footballs), and All-Star Music (giant saxaphones and trumpets), and then there is Pop Century (An ode to “pop culture” over the last several decades – giant hippie flowers and Rubik’s Cubes), and last but not least – The Art Of Animation Resort which is themed after some of Disney’s best animated movies (Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Cars). As you might have been able to guess, these are NOT subtle themes – as the décor is BIG, BRIGHT and LOUD – it’s really a hit with the little ones!

Room For More: Speaking of little ones, if you are thinking that a standard size hotel room would NOT be enough space for you and your family to spread out, then you might want to think of booking a family suite instead. They sleep up to 6, and offer a separate bedroom, pull out sofa beds, 2 bathrooms, and a kitchenette. There are some at the All Star Music Resort, and a whole bunch more at the Art of Animation Resort. Prices are a bit more for these, running around $200-$300 a night (again, depending on what time of year you go). The price may be higher, but the extra space and ability to prepare simple meals (breakfast before you head to the parks, for example) makes it a much better choice for many families (not to mention – 2 bathrooms is a LOT more convenient than the whole family sharing just one!)

My family has really enjoyed staying at all the WDW Value Resorts – overall, the service has been amazing, and while they may not offer as many amenities as the Moderate or Deluxe hotels, we believe that the lower price is worth that trade off, and hopefully this helped convince you to check out the Value Resorts for your next trip, too!

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Top Disney World Souvenirs For Kids http://www.chipandco.com/top-disney-world-souvenirs-kids-234796/ Tue, 14 Jun 2016 12:10:11 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=234796 The struggle is real – to find the kids a souvenir that they like, you like, and isn’t absurdly expensive can seem near impossible, and add in that it ideally should be something they can actually get some practical use out of – well, forget it, right? WRONG! If you plan ahead and look around, […]

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The struggle is real – to find the kids a souvenir that they like, you like, and isn’t absurdly expensive can seem near impossible, and add in that it ideally should be something they can actually get some practical use out of – well, forget it, right? WRONG! If you plan ahead and look around, you’ll see that there are plenty of great, useful things you can purchase for your kids at Walt Disney World.

So read on for my top picks for Disney World Souvenirs for kids:

Pens/Pencils: The classic Mickey head shaped pen is a great small, inexpensive souvenir that they can bring back to school with them, and they come in tons of styles (and pencil versions too!). Disney also makes sets of nicer pens/pencils, as well as packs of colored pencils, crayons, markers, etc – perfect for your little artist. Another good choice to go along with those is a notebook/journal or Disney coloring book – I always loved having a journal to write/sketch in, and well – you’re NEVER too old to color, in my opinion!

Dining/Dinnerware: Every kid has to eat, right? So serve up those chicken nuggets and mac and cheese at home in style – with a Disney cute bowl or plate. Even my son (who is only 18 months old!) recognizes when one of his favorite characters is on his dinner plate or cup, so these are good for kids of all ages. A reusable water bottle is also a really useful souvenir – and the Parks offer them in a variety of styles/characters.

Deck Of Cards/Board Game: Normally anything that falls into the “toy” category is tricky when it comes to the question of “will they actually USE it at home?” – but there are a few toys that might actually get some use by the kids, and the adults too! Disney has several different styles of decks of cards for sale (including awesome haunted mansion themed ones, and star wars ones too!), and they sell some great Disney themed games too – like Tower of Terror Jenga, Haunted Mansion life, Disney Candyland, Muppets Yahtzee, assorted jigsaw puzzles, and more. I personally LOVE a good family game night – so these are all things that me and my family would get a ton of use out of.

A Bag: No matter what age, there’s always plenty of STUFF that kids need when you take them places – so why not buy them their very own Disney backpack or suitcase? There are tons of options to choose from, and they will get such a thrill out of having something as adult as their very own suitcase! And backpacks come in handy all the time – school, camp, weekend at Grandma’s – the possibilities are endless, and it’s definitely something they will get a lot of use out of.

There are some souvenirs I tend to steer the kids away from – including glow sticks/light up toys, those fans that you fill with water and can mist yourself with (cool when you’re in Florida, but not so useful at home), large stuffed animals, small ones are ok, and costume/dress up items – as they tend to be VERY expensive at the Parks, and if they want them badly enough, you can usually find them online for cheaper.

Hopefully you find this list helpful and keep these suggestions in the back of your mind when heading to Walt Disney World – they can help you save precious suitcase space, and money too!

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Tips & Tricks for Traveling To Disney World with Toddlers http://www.chipandco.com/tips-tricks-traveling-disney-world-toddlers-240386/ Sat, 11 Jun 2016 11:53:40 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=240386 As all you parents out there know, life with toddlers is a unique experience (interpret that however you like…). They are amazing and learning different things every day, and there is no stage in life quite like it. Toddlers love experiencing new things and places, so what better way to introduce them to new things […]

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As all you parents out there know, life with toddlers is a unique experience (interpret that however you like…). They are amazing and learning different things every day, and there is no stage in life quite like it. Toddlers love experiencing new things and places, so what better way to introduce them to new things than with a trip to Walt Disney World!!

Here are some tips to help you plan for that magical trip with your little one: Walt Disney World “Do’s and Don’t’s” when traveling with toddlers:

DO:

Involve Them In The Planning: They may not understand it all, and will think when you say “We’re going to Disney!” that means right now even if its months away, but toddlers retain more than we think. Let them help make decisions, but break it down in toddler friendly terms, like “do you want to eat breakfast with Winnie The Pooh, or with Mickey Mouse?”, and “Do you want to go see the animals on the first day, or the Castle?” – thank and praise them for their input, and then when you get to Disney, remind them that they chose this meal/park/ride – they will love getting to make “big people” decisions!

Prepare Them: Show them pictures and videos of the rides/parks and explain to them how it all works – The Parks, the lines, the rides, the characters, etc. Especially the characters – try and get them some character interaction (like at a local theme park perhaps?) before you head to Disney, so you can get an idea of how they might react. If that’s not possible, just show them videos of other kids their age meeting and hugging and getting excited to meet their favorite characters

Pack Smart: Make sure you have plenty of snacks, drinks, and toys for the plane ride, ride lines, bus/boat rides – basically, be prepared for all the time you will spend waiting with lots of toddler-friendly distractions. New little toys/books can be bought cheaply at the dollar store – think things like bubbles, matchbox cars, coloring books, stickers, etc – these are all very useful in helping to prevent toddler meltdowns. Make sure you also back an extra change of clothes (or 2!) for your little one when you head off to the Parks, plus all the standard necessities like sunscreen, hats/hoodies/sunglasses, water bottles, extra wipes and kleenex, etc

DON’T:

Stray TOO Far From Your Toddler’s Regular Schedule: Obviously you’re on vacation, and in a new place, so you can’t expect to always stay 100% on schedule when it comes to naps or meals, but do the best you can to keep meals/snacks around the same time, and while you might not really get a chance to “nap” while touring the Parks, you can definitely make “quiet time” a reality – find a shady spot to spread out with your toddler, and bring a few books and their stuff animal or blanket, and encourage them to lay down in their stroller/on your lap for a bit, and if they nap, great, and if not – at least they got to unwind for a bit. If you’re able to leave the Parks somewhat easily (like if you’re staying on-site at a WDW Resort), then you can head back to your hotel for quiet time/naptime/pool time after lunch, and then be refreshed and ready to head back out to the Parks for dinner!

Do Too Much: On your little one’s first trip to WDW you want them to be able to see and do as much as possible, so it’s easy to try and overplan or to try and squeeze in just one last ride before lunch – and that’s where things can get dicey. Keep a close eye on your toddler – notice when they seem to be dragging, and assess the situation – maybe they just need to be carried for a bit, or maybe a break is in order – take LOTS of breaks – for snacks, drinks, or just to sit down for a few minutes. Your toddler is probably on sensory overload – so any chance you can take to do nothing while at WDW is a plus, gives them a chance to recharge, and the frequent breaks will keep you from overwhelming them

Expect Everything To Go As Planned: No matter how much you prepare for your WDW trip – the reality is that nothing with a toddler ever goes exactly as you plan it – and that’s ok! My best advice is to have a plan, but to be willing to be spontaneous too – it’s ok if you don’t ride every ride or meet every character, and if your toddler likes the train the best and wants to ride it 8 times – then do it! That’s how you make the best memories sometimes, by throwing the plan out the window and letting fate decide your day!

What about you have you traveled to WDW with toddlers? What are your best tips and tricks for making the most out of your vacation with them?

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Top Disney Souvenir Picks For Adults http://www.chipandco.com/top-disney-souvenir-picks-adults-236946/ http://www.chipandco.com/top-disney-souvenir-picks-adults-236946/#comments Mon, 06 Jun 2016 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=236946 We we all know how awesome vacation souvenirs are when you’re a kid, but who says adults can’t bring home some awesome Disney keepsakes too? Read on for my top Disney souvenir picks for adults: Tech Accessories: Disney World shops and stores offer tons of great iphone and android phone cases/covers, and you now have the […]

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We we all know how awesome vacation souvenirs are when you’re a kid, but who says adults can’t bring home some awesome Disney keepsakes too? Read on for my top Disney souvenir picks for adults:

  • Tech Accessories: Disney World shops and stores offer tons of great iphone and android phone cases/covers, and you now have the ability to personalize these too – with the Create your own phone case kiosks coming to the Parks this Spring!
  • Bags/Totes/Purses: We all need to carry our stuff from place to place, so why not do it in style? One of the benefits of being an adult is that you can sometimes splurge a bit more on some nicer things – like a Disney Dooney and Bourke or Vera Bradley perhaps? They come in a variety of sizes, styles and patterns, and while the price tag might seem a bit steep for some of the bigger bags – it’s a small price to pay for something so classic! Guys aren’t left out of this category either – there are some really nicely made bags and other items in the Twenty Eight & Main Collection that are perfect for the man in your life
  • Kitchenware: I have to admit, this is a personal favorite of mine – and any time I enter a store at one of the Disney Parks, I am immediately scanning the shelves to find the home goods and kitchenware. It’s a weakness of mine – and I partly blame Disney for making SO MANY perfect yet practical things! Oven mitts, serving spoons/spatulas, plates, silverware, cups, bowls, mugs (I cannot say no to a cute Disney Mug), even aprons – they sell all this and more, and these could not be more amazingly useful – we all need spatulas right? So why not make it a DISNEY spatula!
  • Jewelry/watches: There is a HUGE selection of jewelry and watches available at various spots throughout the Disney Parks – there’s the Crislu collection which features Mickey in a variety of rings/necklaces/earrings and bracelets, Disney Pandora charms, Disney Alex & Ani bracelets, and SOOO much more. There’s a lot available for a reasonable price too, like really cute earrings and necklaces for under $20, and they also sell tons of diamond and gold items featuring Mickey and Pals, too
  • Personalized Souvenirs: There are a lot of spots around the Parks that will engrave/personalize various items – things like wine glasses/mugs and other drinkware, wooden and glass picture frames, leather accessories like bracelets or keychains, Christmas ornaments, and of course the iconic Mickey Ears – something no one should be without (no matter their age!). What better way to commemorate an amazing Disney vacation than with a personalized souvenir? We got an engraved photo frame last time we were at WDW, and put our picture from 1900 Park Fare in it

I LOVE buying Disney souvenirs as an adult – but I have to admit that my favorite one of ALL time is trip photos – all the pictures I take at Disney are super special to me, and I love displaying them and reliving the great times and memories captured in the pictures. But I want to know what you think – what’s YOUR favorite Disney “adult” souvenir?

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What’s To Eat at the Magic Kingdom for Snack Time! http://www.chipandco.com/whats-eat-magic-kingdom-snack-time-233541/ http://www.chipandco.com/whats-eat-magic-kingdom-snack-time-233541/#comments Tue, 31 May 2016 12:25:12 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=233541 Walt Disney World is home to some of the best food on the planet (at least in my opinion anyway!). There are TONS of restaurants and different types of cuisines, but I have to say – my favorite category in the Disney food world is the SNACKS – and yes, snacks are a real food […]

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Walt Disney World is home to some of the best food on the planet (at least in my opinion anyway!). There are TONS of restaurants and different types of cuisines, but I have to say – my favorite category in the Disney food world is the SNACKS – and yes, snacks are a real food category – especially at WDW!

I especially enjoy snacking my way around the Magic Kingdom – and here are my top picks:

Dole Whip: It’s a must have on a hot Florida day – not to mention it’s one of the most iconic Disney snacks ever! A cup full of cool, refreshing pineapple soft serve is a simple yet delicious thing – plus you can get it swirled with vanilla, or served as a float with pineapple juice (that’s my personal favorite). Aloha Isle over in Adventureland is the best place to snag one of these – it’s worth the (sometimes long) wait in line for sure! Learn how to make them at home here!

Giant Cinnamon Bun: These used to be served at the Main Street Bakery before it was refurbished as a Starbucks, and luckily it did not disappear – as it can now be found over in Gaston’s Tavern. The recipe hasn’t changed – they are still the huge, dense, yeast-y rolls as they were when the Bakery had them – with a nice thick cinnamon swirl, and plenty of ooey gooey glaze-like frosting on top, too – they are a must try! And while some of you may see a cinnamon bun as a mere “breakfast food” – I urge you to reconsider – as these are amazing any time of day, and are big enough to share (if you’re into sharing, that is)

Waffle Sandwich: Ok, so picture a huge Belgian style waffle – crispy on the outside, steaming hot and soft on the inside – you got that mental image conjured? Ok – so now, stuff said waffle with assorted amazing toppings – like Nutella and fresh fruit, or sweet and spicy breaded chicken, or ham and swiss – and if you’re liking what you’re seeing in your mind, just imagine how good it will actually taste once you head over to Sleepy Hollow and order one. They are divine – perfect for sharing, and definitely unique – I mean who else would think of something like this but the folks at WDW? If you’re not into waffles, Sleepy Hollow also has funnel cakes , ice cream, root beer floats, and more – it’s a great little spot to stop for a snack

Corn Dog Nuggets: Bit size hot dogs wrapped in delicious corn dog batter and deep fried? Yes – it’s for real, and you can get them over at Casey’s Corner on Main Street USA. The nuggets themselves are delicious, crispy outside, soft inside, with a plump hot dog in the center – but I have to say, the location is part of the appeal here too – there are few things better than grabbing some of these to enjoy while watching the parade come down Main Street. Casey’s also serves up hot dogs (with toppings like chili or pulled pork!), fries, and nachos – just like you’d find at the Ballpark (only more delicious, of course)

English Toffee: Handmade toffee coated in melted chocolate and nuts is one of my all-time favorite Disney treats, and you’ll find it at the Main Street Confectionery – a perfect place to stop to stock up on all of your candy needs. Cake pops, fudge, candy apples, cupcakes, cookies, bulk and bagged candy, and much more are for sale here – so good luck walking out of there empty handed! The toffee is sublime – it is always fresh, and while its packed with sugar (what good toffee isn’t, after all?), it manages to come off as not overly sweet, which makes it a winner for me every time

Well, it’s official – my mouth is watering, and I want to plan my next WDW trip solely based on the fact that I will get to eat all of these awesome snacks. It may seem weird that a vacation be centered so much around food, but people who think that probably have never been to Walt Disney World – because it truly is a foodie paradise. And after having sampled a lot of what they have to offer, I always come back to these old standbys.

What about you – what are your must have Magic Kingdom Snacks?

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