Category Archives: Travel
If you’re a Walt Disney World lover like me, then it probably doesn’t take much to get you pumped about a trip to WDW. To get myself even more excited, there are some things I like to do to prepare me for my reunion with Mickey and all his friends:
Research – The trick with this one is not overdoing it! Once you book your trip, there are some definite musts for research. Click the Planning button at the top of the page to learn more.
Weather-check and see what that time of year is typically like in Orlando and plan to pack accordingly (noting of course that the weather can be different than the average, but at least it gives you a place to start!)
Dining options – if you’re a foodie like me you will love this one, and if you don’t know where to start check out Walt Disney World’s official dining website for information The great thing is, most of this can be done online. For restaurant info check out Guide to Walt Disney World Section.
Things to do – There is so much to do at Walt Disney World that you’ll want to at least get a grasp on the basics before your trip, for this one I actually prefer books to the internet, books tend to be more factual and straightforward – I like Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World because it’s easy to understand and updated yearly
Transportation: Once your trip is booked, you still need to figure out how you will get there! For me that involves buying plane tickets and checking airline baggage limitations and making reservations for Disney’s Magical Express shuttle. If you need to rent a car, you’ll want to get that booked early, and if you are driving, you’ll want to make sure you vehicle is up to date on maintenance, oil changes, windshield wiper fluid etc before your trip
ADR’s: Walt Disney World allows you to make Advance Dining Reservations, or ADR’s 180 days before your trip. People laugh when I tell them I just made dinner reservations for my trip that’s 6 months away, but ADR’s are serious business – the popular places (like character meals and signature dining) book up fast, so take advantage of this system and plan some special meals for your trip
Itinerary – Once I book my ADR’s and have my meals all squared away, I get down to the serious business of planning out our days with an itenerary. Some things to keep in mind with this – you’ll want to be realistic, and not try to do too much in a day. You’ll want to take into account that Disney Transportation can take time, and your travel times could be greatly impacted by it. And most importantly, don’t get TOO involved with planning out your days – when you find yourself scheduling in ‘relaxation time’ its probably time to step back and look at the bigger picture – just knowing what park you want to visit on which day is probably enough, the rest will take care of itself!
Lists – I am a HUGE fan of making lists, and I always make a list of what I need to packa few weeks before any trip. This gives me a chance to see what I might need to buy (mini toiletries, snacks, a new book, etc) so I am not scrambling at the last minute to get it all together. Plus when it comes time to pack, it makes it a whole lot easier if you can just check things off a list
Pre-Packing – I do this about a week or so before my trip, I get out the luggage and make sure it’s all in good shape, and I pack some of the things I know I won’t need before the trip. Another part of this would be charging my various electronic devices – camera batteries, Nintendo game system, etc and making sure they are in working order before the trip
Packing – I like to do most of it about 5-7 days prior to the trip, and since I made a list, this is super easy and not stressful at all! One thing that’s important is to leave room for the souvenirs you will buy at Disney!
A few last minute things that you won’t want to forget:
- Cash for tipping the airport shuttle guy who helps load your luggage, trip snacks/drinks, etc
- Cell phone charger – Personally, I don’t like to talk on the phone much when I am on vacation, but I do like to use my Disney apps and phone camera, so this is an important one!
- Trip paperwork- including confirmation numbers, Dining reservation information, etc
- Identification – your wallet with license or your passport if needed
- House keys – this may seem like a silly one, but they are easy to forget, especially if you are getting a ride to the airport, and you don’t want to be locked out when you get back from vacation!
Check out my article on what else to pack for you Disney Trip and above all, it’s ok to be excited and have fun, even as an adult going to Walt Disney World, it’s you vacation and you are going to the Happiest Place on Earth, so live it up!
- Get the Most Out of Your Disney Dining Experience from the Disney Food Blog (chipandco.com)
- Disney Planning Tip: Top 5 Snacks for Small Children at Walt Disney World (couponingtodisney.com)
Every photo has a story.
With theme park crowds at some of their highest levels during the Christmas Season, you may need a break from the long lines. Hop a monorail and head over to the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa for some holiday shopping in a fabulous resort themed in the style of America’s palace hotels. As you walk into the lobby from the monorail platform, you’ll feel as if you have entered an archetectural era of days gone by. Inspired by the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, Colorado, the five story lobby will take your breath away.
The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa decorates each holiday season with a can’t miss Victorian era inspired gingerbread house. Grab your camera and head to the right side of the lobby, where you’ll find a staircase frequently used for bridal portraits for weddings held at the resort. Snap your own photo here on the stairs, followed by a shot next to their astounding Christmas tree, and then make your way across the lobby to the gingerbread house taken straight from every child’s Christmas morning fantasy.
Picture this…the GF Gingerbread House is whipped up every year from scratch using 800 pounds of flour, 600 pounds of powdered sugar, 1,050 pounds of honey, and 180 pounds of apricot glaze. It takes about 400 hours to bake everything, and by everything, I mean the upwards of 10,000 pieces it takes to complete the mouth-watering 16-foot-tall piece of culinary architecture.
Want to learn some neat tips for creating your own holiday gingerbread masterpiece?
Grand Floridian Gingerbread House decorating demos are held Monday through Saturday right out in front of the Victorian Gingerbread House. You’ll need to bring your Disney Rewards Visa, because with all these sweet-treat options, you probably won’t walk away empty handed. There’s usually a classical pianist or a big band performing all your favorite Disney tunes in the lobby. Rest those feet for a while – enjoy your snack.
When you’ve had your fill of gingerbread, walk back upstairs to the monorail level and spend some time in Basin White. Basin White has a very simplistic décor that focuses all your attention on their specialty line of luxury bath and body care. With an amazing selection of bath bombs, salts, scrubs, and perfumes, they have a wide range of specialty soaps that you must smell to believe. You can preview some of their holiday soap bars right here. You’ll not soon forget the clean smells and the colorful soaps. Basin White is a great place to wash your hands with their sugar and salt scrubs before you resume your journey back to the Magic Kingdom. Don’t be surprised if you take some home for the holidays.
Gingerbread for the tummy and fabulous bath products for the body…what a excellent holiday combination.
Thanks for stopping by for a photographical Disney ride!
Do you have any fabulous Disney vacation pictures you’d like to share? Drop by and share your photos on facebook at Mouze Kateerz. Take a virtual Disney vacation twice a day in photographs. Or shoot me an email of your favorite Disney location at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every photo has a story.
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios was created by Jennings Osborne. A successful Arkansas businessman, Jennings and his wife bought a large estate in the middle of Little Rock in the mid-70′s. When their six-year-old daughter, “Breezy,” made a simple request for Christmas decorations in 1986, Jennings began his eventually epic-Mickey sized Christmas display with about 1,000 lights. Years passed, and the decoration collection grew. When it outgrew his house, he bought the two homes next door and decorated those too.
Picture this…when the Christmas light count went over two million in 1995, all the Osbourne lights were all shipped to Walt Disney World. And the Clark Griswold in each of us rejoiced, for now they belong to all the holiday visitors at Hollywood Studios. Entire buildings on the Streets of America are covered in sheets of multi-colored lights, and thousands more lights form twirling carousels, heavenly angels, and Santa with his reindeer. Approximately every 10 minutes, the lights dim and then dramatically come back to life, all choreographed to festive holiday music. Some nights, as an extra dose of Disney Magic, the light show is topped off with a flurry of Florida snow.
Longing to set your inner-Griswold free this holiday season? Jennings Osborne had some words of decorating wisdom before his passing earlier this year. ”Just have fun. Decorate lawn chairs and tire swings- everything. Be creative.”
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is included with your standard admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. The lights will whirl and twinkle from now through December 7, and then December 9 to January 7, 2012. That cup or two of Disney hot chocolate you’ll want to buy on your way to the light show will run you a little extra. You’ ll want to bring along your camera too.
Thanks for stopping by for a photographical Disney ride!
Do you have any fabulous Disney vacation pictures you’d like to share? Drop by and share your photos on facebook at Mouze Kateerz. Take a virtual Disney vacation twice a day in photographs. Or shoot me an email of your favorite Disney location at email@example.com
Walt Disney World has a lot of different resort options to choose from, so the question is, where should you stay, what resort will best suit you and your family’s wants and needs? When I was young, my family always chose to camp at Fort Wilderness, and I have many fond memories of the resort from my childhood.
To help you figure out if Fort Wilderness is right for you, weigh the pros and cons:
- Peace and Quiet: it is a big, beautiful, peaceful resort, full of lush green meadows, and it seems like you’re a world away. It really is a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of the parks
- Lodging Options: When staying at Fort Wilderness you have the option of camping with your own equipment (they offer sites with hookups for all kinds/sizes of RV’s and campers), or you can rent one of their Cabins, which sleep 6 and come complete with a bathroom and kitchen (truly a home away from home!)
- Cost: compared to other WDW resorts, camping at Fort Wilderness can be considered cheap if you already have a camper, since you’re only paying for a campsite. If you decide to rent a cabin, since they sleep 6, if a few people are pitching in on the cost, that’s another way to be able to save some money. Not to mention the fact that you can cook your own food in the cabins or in your camper and save on meal costs (the resort has 2 small stores where you can purchase grocery items)
- Built in Entertainment: Since the resort is so large, it is able to offer lots of ways to keep you and your family amused away from the parks. Swimming, biking, nature trails, horseback riding, canoe and powerboat rentals, nightly campfires featuring an appearance by Chip and Dale, golf cart rentals (that’s right, you can even rent a golf cart here!)…there’s so much to do that Fort Wilderness is practically a theme park itself!
- Shuttle Boat Service: You can take a boat from Fort Wilderness to the Magic Kingdom, and from there you can take a monorail or bus to pretty much anywhere in Walt Disney World. The boat is really a time saver (versus staying at a value resort and having to take a 30 minute bus ride to the Magic Kingdom)
- Restaurant options: Fort Wilderness is home to the famous Hoop Dee Doo Revue dinner show, a wild west themed show that is a must-see at WDW! If you’re looking for something a little more tame, try Trail’s End, where they serve breakfast and dinner buffet style and lunch is offered a la carte. Either way, you won’t go hungry with the delicious food offerings at Fort Wilderness!
- Confusingly Large: Fort Wilderness is so large that it has it’s own internal bus system which can be confusing, and you could spend 15 minutes or more walking back to your campsite from the bus stop after a long day at the parks (not fun on feet that have already spent 12 hours walking!)
- Bus Service: The Magic Kingdom shuttle boat makes things easy, but bus service to other parks can be slow, with long times between buses and the rides can be crowded and long
- Grocery Offerings Small: Should you plan to cook the majority of your meals at your campsite, and you will need to purchase food once you arrive at the Resort, you may end up paying too much….the Resort offers groceries, but the selection isn’t huge, and the prices tend to be way higher than a regular grocery store. Try using Garden Grocer to have food delivered to you!
- “Wild West” cuisine offerings not for everyone: Trails End has some great food, but the variety is not as large as you would find at a Value or Moderate resort’s food court. Health wise, the options aren’t as plentiful, and it’s really the only place to eat at the Resort, so it might get old fast
Overall, I can’t say enough good things about Fort Wilderness, as an adult I would definitely bring my family there, it’s a beautiful resort with a ton to offer, and something for everyone for sure.
Hopefully it ends up being the right WDW resort for you, and you can make some memories there too!
- Celebrating Thanksgiving at Walt Disney World (chipandco.com)
- Is Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort For You? (chipandco.com)
Walt Disney World is a magical place to vacation and if you do most things correctly it is difficult to not have a wonderful time. Some people are planners and some are not but some planning is essential. Every traveling group has a definite dynamic and there are travelers within each group with different abilities and needs. The magic of Walt Disney World can overcome most things but there are a few things that MANY, MANY visitors do that can defeat even that magic. Let’s look at five things that can derail an otherwise incredible visit.
- OVERPLANNING: An awful lot of people get carried away with the planning portion of a visit. They try to plan every minute of every day and more often than not they suffer some disappointment because of the dreaded “Disney variables”. Although there are a lot of sites around that do a good job of predicting crowd levels, none of them are always accurate. You must allow some spare time to account for unexpected crowds and other things like an attraction going down because of a malfunction – it happens!! If you find yourself asking how long it takes to walk from attraction A to attraction B so you won’t miss anything, you are overplanning
- THE DOMINANT PERSONALITY: As I mentioned in the introduction, every traveling group has a dynamic which includes a dominant person in the group. If you don’t recognize who that person is in your party, it’s probably you. I speak from experience here because I am generally the dominant personality. I have learned over time that I have to step back and let the other members of the group take the lead. When I find myself taking over the group I have to say to myself – Ken, it’s not all about you!! Let your family and friends make some touring decisions.
- GOING COMMANDO (NO RESTING): It always amazes me the number of visitors who feel that they have to be on the go and hitting attractions every minute of every day. They are easy to spot because they are the ones in full meltdown about half way through their day. I’m not just talking about the kids either, grownups have meltdowns too. Kids cry and grownups yell or grimace at each other. Do yourself a favor, relax your pace and make every attempt to get out of the park for an hour or two each day. Take a nap or a dip in your resort pool and if you are not staying on site go visit one of the beautiful Disney resorts to just sit down for a snack or a cold beverage – you will not regret it.
- NOT LISTENING TO YOUR BODY: Your body knows when it needs something!!! When it’s tired it needs rest of one type or another, when it’s hungry it needs nourishment. and when it’s thirsty it needs fluids. One of the worst things you can do to yourself at Walt Disney World is to not stay hydrated. You get caught up in the excitement (happened to me in October) and you don’t drink as much WATER as you should. Dehydration is the quickest ticket to feeling just plain miserable and is the easiest thing to prevent – water, water, and more water!! Don’t worry, there are plenty of restrooms at Walt Disney World and they are generally spotless!!!!
- WINGING IT (ZERO PLANNING): I did this once and believe it or not, this is worse than overplanning. Walt Disney World is huge and very complicated so if you don’t do any planning I can almost guarantee you will spend a significant portion of your vacation standing in line for attractions. Equally as important, one of the easiest ways to rest is at a table service restaurant but if you don’t pre plan at least some meals and make the appropriate reservations you are very likely to be disappointed. The internet is a gold mine for research and any planning you do (just don’t overdo it) will be rewarded.
It’s very tough to ruin a vacation to Walt Disney World but if you do some of the things I mentioned above you are on your way. I learned most of the things I talked about through many, many visits over the years and I hope reading about them will help you maximize your visit. As always, enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!
- First RFID turnstiles open at Epcot as Walt Disney World continues Next Generation initiative (chipandco.com)
- Wounded Veteran Prevails Over Physical Disabilities to Compete in Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (chipandco.com)