Catie – Chip and Co http://www.chipandco.com Disney Theme Park & Movie News, Disney World & Disneyland Planning Tips, Disney Dining Reviews and More! Sat, 25 Mar 2017 00:51:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.3 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 Disney World Character Meal Tips with Toddlers http://www.chipandco.com/disney-world-character-meal-tips-toddlers-260966/ http://www.chipandco.com/disney-world-character-meal-tips-toddlers-260966/#respond Wed, 22 Mar 2017 15:04:22 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=260966 Last week I shared some tips for bringing your toddler to Walt Disney World, and that got me to thinking about mealtime with toddlers. Dining with tiny ones can certainly be a challenge, especially when you’re at Walt Disney World where there are distractions everywhere you look. But fear not – as I am here […]

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Last week I shared some tips for bringing your toddler to Walt Disney World, and that got me to thinking about mealtime with toddlers. Dining with tiny ones can certainly be a challenge, especially when you’re at Walt Disney World where there are distractions everywhere you look. But fear not – as I am here with more tips – this time on how to tackle Disney World character meals with toddlers:

Let Them Help: Toddlers love doing “adult” things – so when you’re planning out your WDW Itinerary, and figuring out where you might want to eat (and planning for your ADR day of course – right?), let them help with the planning! I’m not talking about letting them dictate the whole trip – but giving them simple options like “would you like to eat with Mickey, or the Princesses?” would be a great way to let them feel like they are a part of the planning

Time It Right: It can be tricky to book those popular character meals – and while your instinct might be to take that 7pm time at Cinderella’s Royal Table because it’s the only time slot available – I urge you to reconsider! You should try to book your character meal as close to your toddler’s regular mealtime as you can – it will make life easier on everyone, trust me. And if that means you have to trade dinner for breakfast, or that you don’t get to go to your first choice restaurant – so be it. Routine is everything with little ones – and so is food – so best not to mess with either one

Pack Wisely: I talked about packing for the Disney Parks with toddlers in my post last week, and I mentioned bringing snacks and drinks along, but when it comes to getting them to sit through a meal, extra provisions must be brought. When we go out to eat with our little one, I try to bring along all the “comforts of home” – bib, kid utensils & plate, sippy cup, and plenty of wipes, too. I also like to basically bring a full meal’s worth of things I know he will eat in case he rejects everything at the restaurant (not likely but you never know!). Activity items are a must, too – crayons and paper, toy cars, his toy “laptop” – they can all buy you some peace and quiet, and who knows, you might actually get to eat, too!
Pro Tip: Download some shows/movies on your phone/tablet as a last resort – just in case your little one decides to enter full on tantrum mode before the waiter even brings over the drinks

Don’t Expect Perfection: Toddlers don’t have it easy – they can’t always express what they are feeling, and that can frustrate them greatly, and as with anything else – you just can’t expect them to behave perfectly and sit quietly through a whole character meal. They might cry when Mickey comes around and not want their picture taken, or they might throw 15 chicken nuggets on the floor – and that is all ok. Just because they are at Disney World doesn’t mean they are going to act like angels – and just as with any other place, I take the stance of “I expect this to go poorly and if it doesn’t, I will be glad” when it comes to toddler life

Here are my top picks for toddler character dining spots at WDW:

  • Crystal Palace
  • Chef Mickey’s
  • Tusker House

All of these are extremely kid friendly, and are also all buffets – which means you’re almost certain your toddler will find at least one thing he/she will eat!

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Tips for Traveling to Disney World with your WHOLE Family http://www.chipandco.com/tips-traveling-disney-world-whole-family-246841/ http://www.chipandco.com/tips-traveling-disney-world-whole-family-246841/#respond Tue, 14 Mar 2017 16:27:33 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=246841 Tons of families travel in packs to Walt Disney World – you see them there in their matching “family reunion” shirts, posing in front of the Castle with big cheesy grins – well, the picture may say they’re all smiling and having fun – but the reality is, traveling with a big group can have […]

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Tons of families travel in packs to Walt Disney World – you see them there in their matching “family reunion” shirts, posing in front of the Castle with big cheesy grins – well, the picture may say they’re all smiling and having fun – but the reality is, traveling with a big group can have its challenges. Should you find yourself a part of one of these parties someday, then you’ll want to be sure to follow my tips and tricks for traveling to Disney World in a big group:

Plan Ahead: Research rides and restaurants, read a Disney guidebook….basically just gather all the information you can so you have an idea of what to expect once you arrive at WDW. Once you have some basic knowledge, you can book your dining reservations (learn more about ADR’s here), pick out your fastpass+ selections, and even make an Itinerary! Having all of this done ahead of time will help avoid confusion and wasted Park time for everyone involved

Let EVERYONE Help: I’m not saying you need to let every person weigh in on every meal/ride choice – but even letting each person pick out just one thing can make them feel that much more invested in the trip (especially those family members who might be a little tricky to deal with – like teenagers perhaps?). Make it easy for little ones and let them decide what characters they want to eat with or visit, and let the older kids and adults pick a ride or meal from a short list

Pack Smart: Packing for Disney for 1 can be daunting, but if you’re also in charge of making sure your whole family is packed and prepared – well, that is a task that can easily become overwhelming. If you have no idea where to start, check out my Disney Packing For First Timers article, and then make a list or two (or three, or one for each person…Can never have enough lists!). Don’t forget to take into account what the weather will be like during your trip, too! Once you’ve made your lists – double check and make sure these 5 items are on them (you can thank me later). I recommend you also start packing a week or so before your trip – so you can make sure you have everything and not be in a rush to try and pack it all last minute (planning ahead REALLY comes in handy here, trust me!)

Be Organized: Keeping track of paperwork, plane tickets, passports/ID’s, park tickets, money, cameras, souvenirs…(and on goes the list) for a big group of people can be difficult – so if you are the lucky person in charge of all that, I recommend you make checklists for each person (more lists yay!). Have each person put their important items in a large Ziploc bag (passport, camera, etc) just in case a rainstorm hits (or in case Splash Mountain happens!), and I would also highly recommend implementing The Buddy System with a big group, too. Assign each person a “buddy” (best to put younger ones with an older, more responsible sibling or adult), and make sure they understand that they need to know where their buddy is at all times, and also assign them the task of making sure their “buddy” has packed everything on their checklist for the Parks. Which brings me to….Park Bags!

Park Bags: Each person should have their own Park Bag, and what they might need may vary (medications or items like an Epi Pen or Inhaler, for example), but there are some things that EVERY person should have with them at ALL times: a poncho, a reusable water bottle, snacks, extra Ziploc baggies, sunscreen, a hat, a hoodie/sweatshirt, and a copy of everyone’s phone numbers/names (should they happen to get separated from the group unexpectedly)

Hopefully you can use these tips and tricks to help ensure everyone in your group has an amazing time when you’re visiting Walt Disney World!

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Do it yourself with these Delicious Disney Desserts! http://www.chipandco.com/delicious-disney-desserts-241006/ http://www.chipandco.com/delicious-disney-desserts-241006/#respond Tue, 14 Mar 2017 16:23:22 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=241006 I have to say – I absolutely LOVE the food at Walt Disney World. Now, I know I have said this a million times before, but I don’t care – as it bears repeating – they have some of the best food in the entire world. Seriously – they have it all – from the […]

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I have to say – I absolutely LOVE the food at Walt Disney World. Now, I know I have said this a million times before, but I don’t care – as it bears repeating – they have some of the best food in the entire world. Seriously – they have it all – from the amazing cuisines from other countries available at Epcot’s World Showcase (Moroccan, Mexican, Japanese – just to name a few!), to the 5 course meals at Victoria And Albert’s, to the amazing snacks available all over the Parks and Resorts – it’s all amazing – truly a foodie’s paradise!

And how does a true Disney Foodie beat the “post Disney blues”? Why, by recreating their favorite Disney Dishes at home, of course! Personally, I am a baker – I love desserts, love baking them, eating them, sharing them with friends and family – and so Disney DIY Desserts are right up my alley!

Check out these amazing recipes that bring that Disney Magic home – in Dessert form!

smorebake

Perfect for summer – this S’mores bake puts everything you love about this campfire treat into one pan (no fire required!)

S‘mores Bake
(Recipe Courtesy Of Disney Parks Blog)
Serves 8

Ingredients:

1 (10.5-ounce) box fudge brownie mix
1 (1-pound) bag large marshmallows
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot fudge sauce, warmed
8 graham crackers

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9×13 cake pan with cooking spray. Prepare brownie batter per package directions and pour into prepared cake pan. Bake 20 to 22 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it.
2. Turn oven to broil.
3. Place marshmallows over brownies. Leaving oven door ajar, place marshmallow-topped brownies under broiler 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until marshmallows are golden brown, watching very closely to avoid burning.
4. Drizzle hot fudge sauce over top of toasted marshmallows.
5. Take half of the graham crackers and break them into planks; crush other half of graham crackers into crumbs.
6. Sprinkle crushed graham crackers over top of toasted marshmallows, and place graham cracker planks randomly into toasted marshmallows. Serve immediately.

Flo-V8-Strawberry-Rhubarb-Pie1

Another perfect summertime recipe – strawberry season is in full effect – which makes for a PERFECT pie!

Disney Flo’s V8 Café Strawberry-Rhubard Pie
(Recipe Courtesy Of Cooking With Ruthie)

Prep time 30 mins
Cook time 50 mins
Total time 1 hour 20 mins

Serves: 8

Ingredients
Streusel Topping:
· ½ C sugar
· ½ C light brown sugar, lightly packed
· 5 TBsp flour
· ¼ tsp salt
· 1 tsp cinnamon
· 5 Tbsp butter, softened
· 1 tsp vanilla
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Filling
· 11/2 C sliced frozen rhubarb
· favorite 2 crust pie crust (I used a store bought)
· 1 egg
· 1 Tbsp water
· 2 C fresh sliced strawberries
· ½C light brown, lightly packed
· ½ c sugar
· zest of 1 orange
· 2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
· 2 Tbsp flour
· 1 Tbsp cinnamon

Directions

For streusel:
1. Combine sugar, brown sugar, flour, slat, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
2. Mix softened butter with a fork or fingers until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in vanilla.
3. Set aside.
For pie:
1. Place rhubarb on layers of paper towels to thaw and drain, removing as much liquid as possible.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
3. Lay out 1 pie crust in the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan, chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together egg and water in a small bowl to make egg wash.
4. Set aside.
5. Mix rhubarb, strawberries, brown sugar, sugar, orange zest, and orange juice in a large mixing bowl; set aside for 10 minutes.
6. Stir flour and cinnamon into rhubarb mixture.
7. Pour filling into pie shell and brush edges with egg wash.
8. Add top crust and seal edges with fork tines.
9. Using a sharp knife to slice a cross in the center of the pie crust and almost touch the edge of pie.
10. Using fingers pull back all four points of the cross until the dough can be pressed into the edges of pie crust.
11. Egg wash the top of pie and sprinkle streudel filling onto the exposed pie filling. Collar pie with foil and bake for 10 minutes.
12. Decrease temperature to 375 degrees and bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes or until pie is golden brown, removing foil the last 15 minutes.
13. Cool before serving.

Personally – while I love pie AND s’mores, I am just a cookie fan at heart – which is why these double chocolate chunk cookies served at the Main Street Bakery are one of my favorites! Or maybe you would prefer trying your hand at whipping up your own dole whips or Grey Stuff? No matter what your preference, these Disney Dessert recipes are perfect for beating those Disney Blues, or for helping you get amped up for your next Disney trip!

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Top Toddler Rides at each Disney World Theme Park http://www.chipandco.com/top-toddler-rides-disney-world-theme-park-261429/ http://www.chipandco.com/top-toddler-rides-disney-world-theme-park-261429/#respond Tue, 14 Mar 2017 16:17:31 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=261429 Walt Disney World is packed FULL of amazing rides, shows, characters, attractions – and more! So much so that it can be overwhelming to try and figure out which one to do first (and which ones to skip!). If you’re headed to Disney with a toddler, then there are other factors that come into play […]

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Walt Disney World is packed FULL of amazing rides, shows, characters, attractions – and more! So much so that it can be overwhelming to try and figure out which one to do first (and which ones to skip!). If you’re headed to Disney with a toddler, then there are other factors that come into play as well – like height requirements for rides, how dark a ride is, how loud/scary it might be – needless to say, you might want some help when it comes to picking the best ones for your little one.

So read on for my top Toddler Picks At Each Of The WDW Parks:

Magic Kingdom: On a hot day, nothing beats splashing around in the fun train themed splash park style area of Fantasyland – home to Casey Jr’s Splash “N” Soak Station. The little ones will love the train noises and assorted misting and fountain spots (best to bring spare clothes or a swimsuit for them to be able to fully enjoy this spot!). Oh – and speaking of trains – the Walt Disney World Railroad should be a high priority ride for you – as your toddler will love the train itself, and they will love the views too! Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel is a classic must do – what little one doesn’t love riding a horse on a carousel?

Animal Kingdom: Much of this park is a slam dunk for toddlers – as I have yet to meet one who doesn’t ADORE all animals! Kilimanjaro Safaris is a “must do” for sure – kids love looking for and getting to spot animals, and there are plenty to see on this safari ride! Finding Nemo: The Musical is another hit for the preschool crowd – as they will love the life-size sea creatures and songs that bring their favorite movie(s) to life. The Tree of Life is a great way to get kids to spot animals they already know, and to learn about new ones too – make a game out of it – “whoever can spot the most animals wins!”

Hollywood Studios: I personally find this park to be a bit trickier when it comes to toddlers – as they aren’t really capable of understanding the glamour and glitz of “Old Hollywood” – but nevertheless, it’s still possible to find stuff there they will love. Like all of the different stage shows they offer – they can sing along with Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff at the For The First Time In Forever: A frozen Sing Along Celebration, see their favorite TV friends come to life at Disney Junior – Live on Stage!, or enjoy some 3-D Action at Muppet Vision 3D (my personal favorite!). You and your little one will love immersing yourself in the series of “Midway” style games offered at Toy Story Midway Mania (fastpass+ HIGHLY recommended for this one – as the lines can get INSANELY long!), and they can even meet and greet with Olaf at the Celebrity Spotlight

Epcot: A top pick for younger ones (and well those of all ages really!) is Journey Into Imagination…With Figment – a ride through the “Imagination Institute” where you learn about how your senses work and how they fuel our imaginations. Turtle Talk With Crush is great for toddlers as it’s interactive – Crush appears on a huge screen and talks and tells jokes while teaching about the sea (so it’s educational as well as fun – but don’t worry – they won’t know they’re learning!). Truth be told, I never loved the World Showcase portion of Epcot much as a kid – I found it to be boring – and had I been able to take part in something as cool as Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure – I would have been much more on board! In the Adventure, you travel from country to country completing different “missions” with Agent P – and you can do it all on your smartphone!

While Walt Disney World is designed to be great for those of all ages, there are definitely things that are more suited for the preschool crowd – and hopefully you can use my list to wow your little toddler into becoming a miniature Disney Addict in training!

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Top Disney Birthday Gifts For The Disney Lover In Your Life http://www.chipandco.com/top-disney-birthday-gifts-disney-lover-life-246495/ http://www.chipandco.com/top-disney-birthday-gifts-disney-lover-life-246495/#respond Tue, 21 Feb 2017 12:00:10 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=246495 Gift giving can be tricky…especially if you’re not a Disney lover but your spouse/significant other/best friend is. Stumped on what to give your favorite Disney Addict for their birthday this year? Read on for my top Disney Birthday Gift Ideas: For Him: Men are notoriously tricky to buy for – but there are some surefire […]

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Gift giving can be tricky…especially if you’re not a Disney lover but your spouse/significant other/best friend is.

Stumped on what to give your favorite Disney Addict for their birthday this year? Read on for my top Disney Birthday Gift Ideas:

For Him: Men are notoriously tricky to buy for – but there are some surefire Disney items that are perfect for your man:

  • Disney Drinkware: Every guy has their favorite drink, and Disney has a cup to match – TONS of mugs, as well as assorted beer, wine, and shot glasses, as well as regular drinking glasses too – all are available with iconic Mickey head etched on them, as well as plenty of other designs, too!
  • Tech Accessories: Iphone cases galore, cases/covers for Ipads and other tablets, padded laptop sleeves, headphones, and even create your own cases at the Disney Parks – your tech geek will love them all!
  • A Disney Watch: A nice watch is a great gift – and who wouldn’t love one featuring the iconic Mouse himself? Some can even be personalized with the wearer’s name

For Her: Your Disney-loving gal would surely love to receive any of these:

  • Jewelry: There’s something for every budget in this category – from dangly chandelier earrings to other costume pieces, all the way up to diamond and gold rings, necklaces, and earrings – there’s something to fit every girl’s “Disney Style”. My personal favorite right now is the Disney Alex And Ani collection – they’ve been partnering with them for a few years now, and I am always pleasantly surprised at the fresh new styles that are released every few months
  • A Purse: Every woman needs SOME kind of bag to carry around her necessary items in – whether it be a clutch or wallet, a tote bag or a cross body – trust me, Disney has you covered. Designer collections available at Disney include Dooney & Bourke and Vera Bradley, and there is even a brand new Disney Coach Bag Collection, too

For Anyone: Kitchen tools like oven mitts/aprons, measuring cups/spoons, wine stoppers, coasters, dish towels and MUCH more are available in tons of Disney styles, or you can always go with a nice journal or pen, too

And if you want to win EXTRA bonus points for being awesome – you could always MAKE something. I don’t know a Disney lover out there who would turn down Mickey shaped cookies, or a hand drawn card featuring their favorite Disney characters

All of the items listed above (minus the DIY ones of course!) can be purchased at and of the Disney Parks or in Disney Springs, but if you’re not able to get there – a lot of it can be obtained online from the Disney Store website.

…Ok so the truth is – this article might have been slightly swayed by the fact that it’s MY birthday soon – and that as a fellow Disney lover I would LOVEEEE to get any of these things, but hey that’s neither here nor there. The point is, these are great ideas for your loved ones who have a love of Disney, and they will adore them (and you!)!

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How to prepare your little ones for your Disney World Vacation http://www.chipandco.com/prepare-little-ones-disney-world-vacation-248070/ http://www.chipandco.com/prepare-little-ones-disney-world-vacation-248070/#respond Sun, 05 Feb 2017 12:00:37 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=248070 I can’t WAIT to take my son to Walt Disney World for the first time! I know that when he first sees it, it will likely be completely overwhelming, and to help ease his mind and help answer his questions about what to expect, I have some ideas on how to prepare my little one […]

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I can’t WAIT to take my son to Walt Disney World for the first time! I know that when he first sees it, it will likely be completely overwhelming, and to help ease his mind and help answer his questions about what to expect, I have some ideas on how to prepare my little one for Walt Disney World:

TALK To Them: This one may seem pretty obvious, but talking about the basics is the best place to start. Explain to them what a vacation is, how you will get there, what a theme park is, and what kinds of things you will do on your vacation. Even little ones will comprehend at least some of it, and it’s something you can recall when you get to the airport or hotel “Remember I told you that we were going to get in an airplane to go to see Mickey?”

Pictures From Past Trips: Visual aids are always helpful when explaining about how WDW works – and if your kids are anything like mine, they will LOVE seeing old pictures of you, and it’s the perfect way to get them to see some of the rides, characters, restaurants, and sites they can expect to see once they arrive at the Parks.

Videos: Everyone has a smartphone, tablet, or computer at hand these days – so you might as well use it to show them videos of the Disney Parks. There’s an official Disney Parks You Tube Channel, or you can just search “Disney World Tour” for plenty of helpful videos. You can also request a Disney Vacation Planning DVD via the Disney Website that will help explain what WDW is all about.

Local Theme Parks: Start small, and take your little ones to a local carnival, fair, or theme park to give them an idea of what to expect. Waiting in line, riding rides, enjoying delicious carnival food, as you’re going through each of these, be sure to tell them that “This is like how it will be when we go to Disney”. Taking them on various rides is also a good test, as it gives you an idea of what things they might like when they’re at WDW
*The same goes for characters too – try and get them some character interaction BEFORE you wait in line to see
Mickey (only to find out your little one is scared to death of him!). Local baseball games/zoos/kids fairs, or even local Disney Stores sometimes have character meet and greets – all of which are a great place to bring your little one.

Let Them Help: Kids love to be involved in planning – no matter what their age! Even my not-quite-2-year-old toddler can follow requests like “can you bring mommy your sandals?”, so letting your kids help pack their suitcases, or pick fastpass rides, or choose restaurants “Do you want to eat with Mickey, or with The Princesses?” really lets them feel like they are a “big boy” or “big girl” who is really getting to participate in what the adults are doing.

Craft Up A Countdown: Once your trip gets closer, have your little ones help you make a “Countdown To Disney”. There are a bunch of ways to do this – a big calendar where they get to cross off each day, a paper chain where they tear one off each day, a chalkboard countdown, you can check out some ideas here and here.

Bottom line is – even if you are mega super ultra prepared and do ALL of these things I suggested, your kid still might not love Disney World, or they might still have breakdowns or be overwhelmed – and you just have to remember That’s all ok! Their love for Disney will likely grow as time goes on, and as they get older they will start to understand what a magical place it really is!

I personally know that I will be using ALL of these strategies on my son to help get him ready for his first trip to WDW, which is something I can’t wait for us all to experience as a family!

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When Should I Go To Walt Disney World??? http://www.chipandco.com/go-walt-disney-world-258308/ http://www.chipandco.com/go-walt-disney-world-258308/#respond Tue, 31 Jan 2017 12:00:02 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=258308 The decision to take a trip to Walt Disney World is one of the best ones you will ever make – it’s a magical place full of fun and something for everyone! It will be magical and amazing no matter when you go – but if you ask me, there are definitely some times of […]

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The decision to take a trip to Walt Disney World is one of the best ones you will ever make – it’s a magical place full of fun and something for everyone! It will be magical and amazing no matter when you go – but if you ask me, there are definitely some times of year that are better than others to take a WDW vacation. So if you’re not sure when to go, then read on for my tips on how to decide what time of year is best for your WDW trip:

Crowds: This is one of the biggest considerations (at least for me!) when it comes to picking a time of year to visit WDW – and it probably is high on your list, too! No one wants to stand around waiting 2+ hours for every ride, or have to literally push through a crowd to get anywhere – that is no fun for anyone! That being said – these are the busiest (and normally the ones I try to avoid the most) times at the WDW Parks: The week before and the week of Christmas through New Year’s, from Memorial Day weekend through mid-August, and the weeks of President’s Day (in the later part of February) and the week of Easter (usually falls in early April). Those are the times where you will see the biggest crowds at Disney, and should you decide to go during one of these times, you will want to be prepared with my Tips for battling the crowds at WDW.

Special Events: Disney has tons of special events they host annually – from a food & wine festival, to a flower & garden festival, running events like 5k’s and half and full marathons, Christmas parties, Halloween parties, and special events for just about any and every holiday you can think of! There’s always something special going on somewhere at WDW – check out the official special events page to learn more, and to see if you might want to head to Disney and partake in one (or more!) of these events. Some of them require advance ticket purchase – so it’s best to do this well in advance of your trip so you have everything you need ahead of time

Weather: Ah, Orlando and your weather. Such an interesting place – and for those who have never been, I can sum it up in just a few words: RAIN, and HUMIDITY. It gets HOT in Orlando, which wouldn’t be so bad in it’s own – if it wasn’t for the cripplingly thick humidity that accompanies it – that’s the worst part, for sure. The hottest/most humid months at Disney are June through October – where the temperatures will easily hit or surpass 90 daily. And most of those days at peak humidity time (usually early afternoon), there will be rain showers too – luckily they are normally brief, so as long as you bring along some ponchos you won’t miss out on any of the fun! August through November bring the added issue of Hurricane season into the mix – and while Orlando doesn’t often have actual hurricanes hit it, the rain will be more intense and long lasting during these times (again – PONCHOS – seriously). November – March tend to be the coolest months – with highs averaging in the 70’s, and April and May will start to creep up into the 80’s with plenty of sun, too (sunscreen is a must too!). Taking the weather into consideration is always a smart thing to do when planning a trip – if for no other reason than it helps you pack and be prepared for the elements

School: For those of you with school age children, you will want to take the school calendar into consideration as well. Knowing that many schools get the same weeks/long weekends off, you may be wondering if taking them out of school for a few days or a week would be worth it. And I wish I could answer that with a straight YES or NO for you – but the truth is it really depends on the school. Many will work with the parents if they have enough advance notice and get together homework/reading the child will miss so it can be done on the plane/car ride to Disney, and then some schools don’t condone pulling a child out for vacation and doing so is greatly frowned upon. Personally I think it’s worth a shot to at least ask the school, see what their policies are, and go from there

So then, you may be wondering…
What is the absolute BEST time of year to go to Walt Disney World? For me it has to be early September (after Labor Day) – the weather is still warm (but not as unbearably hot as it might be in July or August, the crowds are light as the majority of schools have just begun the school year and parents won’t generally be comfortable pulling them out for vacation yet, and best of all – the FALL decorations will be up for your viewing pleasure (Mickey pumpkins and wreaths as far as the eye can see!). Alternately, anytime in September will be pretty light crowd wise, as would the month of May (before Memorial Day Weekend) – I would recommend any of those times to someone who is looking to avoid the crowds. But – everyone is different – so hopefully these tips can help you pick the best time to visit with your family!

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Top 5 Lunch Spots at the Disney World Resorts http://www.chipandco.com/top-5-lunch-spots-disney-world-resorts-257572/ http://www.chipandco.com/top-5-lunch-spots-disney-world-resorts-257572/#respond Mon, 30 Jan 2017 15:48:24 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=257572 You know when you’re hanging out at the Disney Parks, riding rides, taking selfies, and having a great old time – and then suddenly – BOOM – HUNGER HITS – and it hits hard and fast, catches you off guard and suddenly you’re like OMG I gotta grab some LUNCH! Well – lucky for you, […]

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You know when you’re hanging out at the Disney Parks, riding rides, taking selfies, and having a great old time – and then suddenly – BOOM – HUNGER HITS – and it hits hard and fast, catches you off guard and suddenly you’re like OMG I gotta grab some LUNCH! Well – lucky for you, Disney World has SO MANY places to eat – and even LUCKIER for you – not only did I give you a rundown of the 5  best Lunch Spots at the WDW Parks last week, but I am back with another list of the Top 5 Lunch Spots at the Disney World Resorts:

Beaches And Cream: This “retro” soda fountain located at WDW’s Beach Club Resort is themed after the Atlantic seashore, with a “boardwalk-y” feel that will have you feeling nostalgic for the good ole’ days! Burgers, fries (and killer onion rings!), sandwiches (including a patty melt and reuben!) and salads are all on the lunch menu, but the real star here is the ice cream – cone, cup, or sundae – have it any way you like it, but I personally prefer the sundaes – the No Way Jose (chocolate peanut butter), milky way, and fudge mudslide are all amazing – but if you’re feeling EXTRA hungry, you might want to try the Kitchen Sink – a HUGE sundae served in an actual metal sink, with tons of ice cream and other assorted toppings (including a whole CAN of whipped cream) – this behemoth serves 4 adults (or fewer if the adults are super starving!)

Wave…Of American Flavors: Fresh New American Cuisine is what you’ll find here – as they pride themselves on the creation and execution of unique and healthy dishes that are also super delicious, too. Salads like Caesar and a tomato mozzarella are a perfect lighter choice, and their signature Bison burger and fresh grilled catch of the day fish are good choices, too. They have a large beer and wine menu as well, and also offer some delicious fresh coffee beverages as well. The Wave is located at WDW’s Contemporary Resort – so it’s not only the perfect place to go for something light and healthy, but it’s the perfect excuse to take a ride on the monorail, too!

Grand Floridian Café: The location of this quiet spot can’t be beat – nestled in among the rose gardens and courtyard pool at WDW’s Grand Floridian Resort – this spot is elegant and classy (but still family friendly and unpretentious, too!). The Cobb salad is a must-try, and the kobe burger just melts in your mouth! Salads, soups, sandwiches and daily specials are also on the menu, as well as an assortment of adult cocktails. This truly is a hidden gem of a spot – that people don’t always remember even exists, but is well worth the trip

Kona Café: Disney’s Polynesian Resort is one of my favorite places to go – it’s so tropical and just has the best vibe – it makes me feel so relaxed and happy! One of the reasons I head over there is to have lunch at the Kona Café – their American dishes with a strong Asian flare are fresh, delicious and always keep me coming back time and time again. Pot stickers and sticky chicken wings make for the perfect appetizer to nibble on while you watch the open air sushi kitchen prepare your tempura or volcano roll right before your very eyes! If you’re not into sushi, fear not – as you can enjoy barbeque pork tacos, or Asian style noodles. And don’t forget to order a Kona Coffee French press – you won’t regret it!

Whispering Canyon Café: Introverts beware: this is NOT the dining experience for you! Head over to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge for this Old West themed dining spot, where antics are always on the menu – it’s a perfect spot for kids – with coloring, sing alongs, and hobby horse races galore. The staff are all jokesters and pranksters too – but it’s all in good fun! The most popular items on the menu here are the “all you care to enjoy skillet” which is served family style – and piled high with pork ribs, pulled pork, roasted chicken, potatoes, baked beans, and corn on the cob. Make sure you bring your appetites – because the “Sheriff’s Shakes” are bottomless, too. Audience participation here is a must – so if you’re looking for a great interactive meal, this is the place for you!

Those who say breakfast is the most important meal of the day clearly have never checked out these WDW Resort dining locations at lunch time! There are some definite advantages to having lunch at a WDW Resort (and away from the Parks!) – you can really avoid some crowds, and the variety of food is huge! Plus – gives you a chance to get away from the insanity that is the Parks around lunchtime – and enjoy a more quiet, relaxed lunch at the Resorts!

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Our Disney World Vacation Planning Timeline http://www.chipandco.com/disney-world-vacation-planning-timeline-258107/ http://www.chipandco.com/disney-world-vacation-planning-timeline-258107/#respond Sun, 29 Jan 2017 13:00:35 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=258107 There is a LOT that goes into planning a Walt Disney World vacation, and trying to keep track of it all can be confusing! But fear not – as we’re here to help! Check out my Disney World vacation planning timeline to help ensure you don’t forget anything when it comes to your trip: When Should […]

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There is a LOT that goes into planning a Walt Disney World vacation, and trying to keep track of it all can be confusing! But fear not – as we’re here to help!

Check out my Disney World vacation planning timeline to help ensure you don’t forget anything when it comes to your trip:

When Should I Book My WDW Trip?

First and foremost, you have to book your vacation! You might not be sure how far in advance to book your trip, and I personally go by the “as early as possible” rule – I try to book my trip online about a year beforehand – gives me plenty of time to get ready (and to save up some souvenir money, too!). Disney has generally released package dates for the following year around late June – so for example – package rates (to include room/tickets/dining) for 2017 were released in late June of 2016 – and that has been the trend for the past several years. I do recommend you stay at a WDW owned Resort – it makes things a lot easier logistics wise (for more on that and why staying at a WDW Resort Hotel is the best, check this out). I also recommend you create your WDW online account at the time of booking, so that you can have that all set early on (if you book online, you will have already done this – but if you go through a travel agent or do it via phone you will want to do this as an additional step!)

Advanced Dining Reservation Day

When you talk to people about Disney vacation planning, you might hear terms like “ADR” and “180 days” thrown around – and that is referring to the fact that Disney allows you to book your sit down meals 180 days in advance with the Advance Dining Reservation system. While you may be thinking “How can I book meals 6 months in advance?” – and I agree it can sound a bit weird to think about, trust me when I say – its necessary! Spots for popular restaurants and character meals fill up FAST – so I highly recommend you take advantage of the ability to book in advance. Read more about ADR’s here.

Transportation

Around 6 months out from the trip is also when I like to plan out my transportation – it’s a good time to decide how you want to get there – will you drive, or fly? Taking into consideration the size of your party and how much gear you might need to bring are good ways to help you nail down the answer to that question – and once you have, you can start looking at driving routes, or checking out plane ticket prices. I usually will look once a week or so and see what the prices are like for plane tickets (as we live in upstate NY – so driving isn’t usually our first choice!), and I normally end up booking them about 3-4 months in advance. Once I have that confirmation information from the airline, I can also get my Magical Express reservations setup too (Magical Express is Disney’s Free airport shuttle service for guests staying at one of their WDW owned resorts – just another perk of staying on WDW property!)

Fastpass+ Reservations

Disney has been using Fastpasses for years – and recently it has gone the way of everything else these days – with online access! You can book up to 3 rides per day with the fastpass+ system before your trip (60 days before if you’re staying on WDW property, 30 days if you have purchased theme park tickets only through Disney), and that information will all be stored on your Magic Band as well as within the Disney World smartphone app (so you can pull it up if you forget the times you chose!). For those not familiar – Fastpass is a way to basically “cut the line” on popular attractions, by booking a “spot” on the ride within a certain hour-long window. As long as you arrive at the ride within that hour, you are able to enter through the Fastpass line – which is MUCH shorter than the standby line, and it allows you to enjoy your favorite rides with little to no wait. To know what rides you will want to do on which days, you might want to think about making an Itinerary around this time as well – read more about how to do that here

Magic Band Customization/Shipping

A Magic Band is a bracelet you wear while in WDW that contains your room key, park tickets, fastpass and ADR information, and they can also be set up to charge purchases to a credit card, too. Additionally, you can customize your magic bands so each person’s has their name and a different color, and best of all – they will be sent right to your house about a month before your trip so you have them ready to go before you even arrive. I recommend you customize them all at the same time you do your Fastpass+ reservations – so that it will all be good to go well in advance

When to pack

I am big on lists – so I like to make a list for packing about a month in advance of my Disney trip – that way I have time to get things I might need like sunscreen, a new swimsuit, batteries for the camera, etc – it’s a LOT easier than running around last minute, trust me on that! Speaking of packing – here’s some more items you will want to make sure you bring along with you.

Hopefully this guide will help you nail down some of the major planning pieces of your WDW trip. I like to do as much planning and preparation in advance as I can – I find that it really allows me to spend more time having FUN once I arrive at Disney World – and isn’t that really the point? So this timeline = less stress, more fun!

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Why YOU Should Plan An “Adults Only” Disney Trip NOW! http://www.chipandco.com/plan-adults-disney-trip-now-256917/ http://www.chipandco.com/plan-adults-disney-trip-now-256917/#respond Wed, 25 Jan 2017 12:00:46 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=256917 Walt Disney World is an amazing place to bring your kids and family – they will marvel in all the magic, and memories will be made to be cherished for years to come! But believe it or not – WDW isn’t JUST for kids – it also has SO MUCH to offer adult travelers, too! […]

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Walt Disney World is an amazing place to bring your kids and family – they will marvel in all the magic, and memories will be made to be cherished for years to come! But believe it or not – WDW isn’t JUST for kids – it also has SO MUCH to offer adult travelers, too!

Read on to learn why you should leave the little ones at home and book an “Adults Only” Disney World Trip:

Deluxe Accommodations: Disney World is home to some truly amazing Resort Hotels – and in case you didn’t already know – they come in 3 styles – Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. The Value Resorts are great for when the whole gang is coming along – family friendly décor, pools, dining and play areas and activities – but when you travel with adults, you are free to kick it up a notch and stay someplace a bit nicer. Bigger rooms, comfier beds, room service/concierge on call, more dining and shopping options – the Deluxe Resorts are the perfect backdrop for your adults only getaway

The “World” Of Dining: Disney World offers up a huge variety of dining options – from snack carts to counter service to all kinds of sit down restaurants – they serve it all, and as adult travelers, you’re free to explore it! There are some truly delicious steaks waiting to be had at Yachtsman Steakhouse, fresh sushi served with an amazing view of the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks at California Grill, and authentic Irish grub with nightly music and dancing at Raglan Road Irish Pub in Disney Springs (a personal favorite of mine and my husband’s!). The point I am trying to make here is – without the little ones, your palette can be expanded beyond the world of PB&J and chicken nuggets – and what parent wouldn’t take advantage of that (I know I would!)

Saying “Cheers” To Us: You have probably heard of the “Drink around the World” challenge – where you explore the drinks of each country in the Epcot World Showcase, which is a great adults only activity (when done right and responsibly, of course!). Epcot may be the most well-known place to grab a drink at Disney, but there are TONS of other spots that offer up some unique adult beverages too. Jiko – The Cooking Place is a restaurant at WDW’s Animal Kingdom Lodge that offers up a large selection of South African wines – a wine list so great that it has won several awards over the years, including being named one of Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Restaurants in the US. Raglan Road has a huge bar with an even huger menu – plenty of beers, wines, whiskeys, and signature mixed drinks to choose from. There are bars and restaurants all over Disney World that offer a variety of “adult beverages” – and without the kids in tow, you can sit back, sip, relax, and enjoy!

See And Do It All (OR Take It Slow!): We know that the more people you travel with, the longer it takes to get things done – and that is even more true of kids – while I love mine, he doesn’t exactly help speed things along, and I think most parents can agree with that statement, too! When you head to Disney World as a couple, you and your significant other can do it all – all the rides, shows, and attractions – and be able to get more done than you would have been able to with the whole family along for the trip. Or – on the flip side – you can simply stroll down Main Street USA and take it slow – stop and window shop, enjoy an ice cream cone, watch the parade, or simply sit on a bench and people watch – the point is, it’s up to YOU – you aren’t trying to please the kids, so you can take the time to really enjoy your favorite things about WDW – whatever they may be! You can even have a Disney Date Night – a rare thing for busy parents!

Hopefully these ideas have inspired you to book an “adults only” trip to Disney World – as there really is a TON for adults to do there

Oh – and while the “adult” themed activities at Disney World are great and I highly recommend trying them all – I also wouldn’t judge if you wanted to dine with characters or wait in line to get your picture taken with Mickey – after all – aren’t we all just kids at heart?

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Disney World First Timers ‘Must Eat’ Snacks http://www.chipandco.com/disney-world-first-timers-must-eat-snacks-252907/ Mon, 09 Jan 2017 13:11:12 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=252907 I recently wrote about some “Must Do’s” For first timers headed to Walt Disney World, and I briefly mentioned how awesome the food at WDW is too, and that you shouldn’t be afraid to try something new when dining in Disney. Well, I decided that there is SO MUCH great food at WDW – and […]

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I recently wrote about some “Must Do’s” For first timers headed to Walt Disney World, and I briefly mentioned how awesome the food at WDW is too, and that you shouldn’t be afraid to try something new when dining in Disney. Well, I decided that there is SO MUCH great food at WDW – and that so much of it falls into that glorious category of SNACKS – that I needed to talk more about it, and ultimately came up with this list of “must eat” snack items you can use as a guide on your first WDW trip:

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Dole Whip: This cool treat has an almost cult-like following, and for good reason! It’s sweet, cold, and the perfect refreshing treat on a hot Florida day. Oh – wait – you probably want to know what it actually is, don’t you? Well – it’s basically a creamy pineapple (ice cream-esque) soft serve dessert, served on its own, or float style with pineapple juice. Even if you think you don’t like pineapple, you will like this, trust me! Oh, and you can check out how to make your own at home here.

Giant Cinnamon Roll: There is nothing like a warm, gooey cinnamon roll smothered in frosting – and if the thought of that is making you drool, then you will definitely want to check out the rolls they are serving up over at Gaston’s Tavern in the Magic Kingdom. They are huge and delicious – and big enough to share (if you’re the sharing type – but don’t worry, no one will judge if you want it all to yourself!)

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Ice Cream: There are so many places to get delicious ice cream at Walt Disney World that it was impossible to just pick one! There’s the always delicious Mickey Bar (available basically everywhere in WDW) – vanilla ice cream coated in chocolate, and shaped like everyone’s favorite mouse! If a sundae is more your thing, then head over to Ghiradelli in Disney Springs – the smell alone of the house made hot fudge and waffle cones is amazing, and their menu is full of delicious sundaes – my favorite is the Gold Rush sundae (the aforementioned hot fudge and peanut butter sauce join forces for this delicious treat). And if you’re more of the “go big or go home” type – then I recommend the Kitchen Sink over at Beaches & Cream – this over the top treat features multiple kinds of ice cream, every topping ever, and a whole can of whipped cream – served in an actual kitchen sink!

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Baked Goods: My favorite places to head for baked goods at WDW are Starring Roles in Hollywood Studios (um…Butterfinger cupcake anyone?), and the Boardwalk Bakery is great too – as they always have something new and different to try.

Caramel Everything: Epcot’s Germany is home to the popular snack spot Karamell Kuche – where they sell tons of amazing items, all featuring their freshly made caramel. Favorites here are the fresh caramel popcorn, as well as the salted caramels, and caramel drizzled cookies.

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Mickey Shaped Foods: I am not sure why, but snacks just taste better when they are shaped like Mickey! Cake Pops (with marshmallow ears!), Mickey shaped pretzels, Mickey Krispie treats, Mickey ice cream bars – they are all must-do’s!

Ok so I know this is supposed to be a list for “first timers” – but don’t worry if you have been to WDW and haven’t checked all of these out – there’s always your next visit, and there is ALWAYS time for SNACK FOODS (especially treats that taste this good!) – Bon Appetit!

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