Category Archives: Tips and Tricks
For kids some of the greatest experiences at Disney World is when they can meet their favorite Disney Characters. To be able to go up and hug Mickey, get tickled by Donald, or chew on his Pluto’s nose makes for lifelong memories. To add to the excitement many people get autographs to save and relive the moment when they are needing some Disney Magic at home.
Today’s Quick Tip is a sorta hybrid tip/rule to make the Disney Character Autograph experience enjoyable for everyone. It will speed things along for your child to spend a few more moments with the Disney Character and prevent people behind you from becoming irritated while waiting on you.
Sharpies work the best!
I have found that one of the best things for the characters to write with are the new Sharpie Markers with the click top on them. Mickey and the Gang had no problem hanging onto the Sharpie and clicking the top when they were finished on our last vacation. Don’t make the character fumble around to try to sign they autograph because in the end your child is the one that suffers from a bad autograph.
Have the page ready!
It makes things so much easier for everyone if you have the page and autograph book ready when walking up. It would drive me crazy when I see parents just hand the characters the autograph book and a pen and watch the train wreck that would follow.
It is hard work for Pluto to thumb through and even see your autograph book, anyone who has received his autograph knows how he has to sign it..on his nose. Do him, myself, and everyone else a favor and while you are waiting in line have all that ready for them. As stated earlier the faster they can sign the autograph the more time for pictures and for spending time with you and your little ones.
I hope these tips help make the autograph session an enjoyable and painless experience. If you have any other suggestions for autographs let us know in the comment section below.
This week we’re talking food and not just any food. Excerpt 2 from Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers (2011) looks at some uncommon non-character dining restaurants where food and entertainment value for your little guys and girls are rolled into one. Please enjoy the excerpt below from Chapter 7, “Dining.”
Keep visiting Chip and Company for more excerpts as we get closer to the October release date of Beyond the Attractions.
Just for Fun
Not interested in Disney’s character dining but still looking for an entertaining dining experience for your kids? These Walt Disney World Resort restaurants offer a unique dining experience that can be fun for preschoolers. The theming of a couple of these eateries may be intense for some small children. Parental discretion is advised.
Pricing information is for a typical entrée or a full buffet, if applicable.
$ under $15
$$$$$ over $60
Disney prices vary during different seasons and are subject to change.
50’s Prime Time Café (Lunch, adult $-$$, child $; Dinner, adult $$, child $). Roll back the clock to the 1950s and have some good ole fashioned fun, courtesy of the Cast Members at this Hollywood Studios eatery. “Aunt” will remind you to eat your veggies and mind your manners while your “cousin” will give you some good-natured ribbing. Introduce your kids to a classic 50’s toy, the viewfinder; you’ll need to peer into one to read the dessert menu.
Biergarten Restaurant (Lunch, adult $$, child $; Dinner, adult $$$, child $). While Mom and Dad enjoy this German buffet in Epcot, your tiny dancers can boogie on the dance floor to traditional Oktoberfest music. You’ll get to know your fellow diners as you share tables with other Disney guests.
Coral Reef Restaurant (Lunch, adult $$, child $; Dinner, adult $$-$$$, child $). This seafood restaurant boasts incredible views of Epcot’s The Seas with Nemo & Friends’ coral reef. Fish lovers will enjoy the fascinating marine life swimming past the restaurant’s large aquarium window.
Ohana (Dinner, adult $$$, child $). This eatery at the Polynesian Resort welcomes its guests warmly and treats dining “cousins” like family. Dinner entertainment includes singing with the children, coconut races, and hula hoops. If you’re not a meat-lover, skip this one – diners are served fire-roasted meats.
Rainforest Café (Lunch, adult $$, child $; Dinner, adult $$, child $). Dine among exotic animals and foliage when you immerse yourself in the jungle atmosphere of the Rainforest Café. This restaurant has two locations at the Walt Disney World Resort – Downtown Disney and Animal Kingdom. With an entrance to the restaurant outside the theme park, the Animal Kingdom location does not require park admission.
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater (Lunch, adult $-$$, child $; Dinner, adult $$, child $). Located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this restaurant simulates a 1950s drive-in theater. Diners are seated in cars and served by carhops. Movie clips of old science-fiction movies are shown on the large movie screen.
Families with sensitive children should avoid this restaurant. Some movie clips contain large insects, “monsters,” and other sci-fi elements that adults will find corny but that may be too intense for very little ones.
T-REX Café (Lunch, adult $$, child $; Dinner, adult $$, child $). This lunch and dinner restaurant in Downtown Disney’s Marketplace will transport you back in time with its life-size dinosaurs, “meteor showers,” and other prehistoric theming.
The theming can be very intense for small children. Parental discretion should be exercised based on your child’s personality and fears.
Stop by the gift shop to Build-A-Dino by Build-A-Bear Workshop, for about $20.
Whispering Canyon Café (Breakfast, adult $, child $; Lunch, adult $-$$, child $; Dinner, adult $$, child $). This restaurant, in Wilderness Lodge, dishes out more than barbecue with its mischievous servers, games, and sing-alongs. The hilarity will ensue when your kids ask for ketchup!
Lisa M. Battista is the author of Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers When she’s not chasing after her little ones, you can most likely find her at the beach or in the kitchen trying her hand at a new recipe. You call follow her on
Twitter @DisneyExplorer and become a fan onFacebook.
Orlando weather during the winter months can be tricky. At best, it’s fickle, hot and cold in the same week or even the same day. Sure, during the summer it’s easy predict what you’ll need to pack: Light clothing and maybe a sweater for nighttime or when you go into a restaurant. That’s simple. But the rest of the year can be all over the place. Many first-time travelers make the mistake of assuming that Florida is always warm, but Orlando is not Miami or the Keys. Did you know that it actually snowed during marathon weekend this past January? I’ve gone to Disney World for many years in December and I’ve often worn shorts, but just as often, I’ve worn a winter coat. If you want to be comfortable, you’ll have to pack with care from November through March. This is especially true for the little ones who may get cold when the sun goes down.
Obviously, you’ll want to check the weather ahead of time, but in all likelihood, it will change. The week before we left for our trip last December it was freezing cold–stores reported selling out of sweaters. The forecast called for much of the same during our stay there. Shockingly, the weatherman was wrong! I know! That never happens, right? When we arrived it was in the high 80s and there I was with a suitcase full of winter clothing. I spent the first full day of our trip at the mall (which, incidently, I kind of enjoyed). The pickings were slim but I managed to find a couple of pairs of capris (because I”m someone’s mother and it’s mandatory that I wear them when it’s above 75 degrees) and a few T-shirts. I could have easily avoided this problem by being smarter about what I packed. In fact, I did it for the kids, just not myself.
The smartest thing to do is to pack clothing that you can layer: Lightweight T-shirts, both long and short sleeve, lightweight sweaters, lighter fabric pants for warmer days, jeans for when it’s colder. And those trusty capris. Pack shorts as well and of course, bring your bathing suits, because you just never know. Polar fleece jackets are appropriate for most nights. To save space, think about bringing a light coat with a liner that zips out. I love theseones from LL Bean. You can wear both–and believe me, you may need it–or just the liner or the shell, depending on the weather. You can even use the liner for covering up on rides like Splash Mountain. I also like moisture wicking shirts, the kind that you normally see people run in. Layer one under a sweater for days that start out cold then heat up. A lot of guests eschew running shoes in the parks during the summer months because they’re too hot, but they’re perfect during the winter. If you do wear your Tevas or Chacas, don’t forget to put sunscreen on the tops of your feet–if it’s warm enough for sandals, it’s also warm enough to get a sunburn.
I’m sure it sounds like I’m telling you to overpack and in a way, I am. But if you bring the right kind of clothing and pack carefully, you’d be surprised what you can fit in a regular sized suitcase. I learned the art of rolling my clothing when I was in the army and it really does save a ton of space and most items come out looking fine. Hang anything that does wrinkle in the bathroom while you shower and the wrinkles will come out. Or don’t worry about it–everyone looks a little dishevled in the parks! Make it your project in the days leading up to your trip to see how efficiently you can pack. It’s part of the fun that gets you one step closer to your goal: Walt Disney World.
Orlando weather during the winter months is unpredictable, but it doesn’t have to ruin your trip. Pack with fluctuating temperatures in mind and you won’t have to buy a $55 sweatshirt in the gift shop at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
In just a few weeks, the first of many Halloween parties will begin in the Magic Kingdom, followed by nearly two months of Christmas parties. These parties, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, will take place two to three nights a week. On those nights, the Magic Kingdom closes at 7:00 p.m., right after Wishes and the Cinderella Castle lighting ceremony (a must do, by the way). If you don’t have a ticket, you’ll be slowly ushered out of the park.
No big deal, right? Just keep in mind that if you have an advanced dining reservation for after the park closes, you won’t be able to get into the park, even though it’s clearly open to other guests. This is true even if you’ve pre-paid for Cinderella’s Royal Table. You will still be charged. Further, if you’re in the park when it closes and your ADR is after closing time, you will not be allowed into the restaurant. So a 6:30 ADR is fine; a 7:15 ADR is not. Disney cast members are very strict about this. I’ve actually been refused entry into Pecos Bills at 7:00 on a party night, so you can imagine how strict they are about table service meals.
If you’ve made your ADRs for any late dining in the parks during this time, make sure there are no special events on those nights. If your heart is set on Cinderella’s Royal Table and you can’t change your ADR, you can buy a ticket for the event but otherwise, make sure you cancel or you’ll be required to pay for each guest in your party who does not make the ADR.
Narrated by Jiminy Cricket, “Wishes” takes Disney guests through treasured tales of adventure and romance from classic Disney films, accompanied by bigger, brighter, bolder pyrotechnics never before seen in a Disney theme park. Wishes are performed most nights in the Magic Kingdom.
Now I may be giving away one of my top and most secret spots here. I stumbled upon this location at just the right time by accident a long time ago. Ever-since then we try to make it a point to go here while on vacation.
This secret location is outside of the Magic Kingdom and is more for adults. If you have kids with you I would recommend staying in the Magic Kingdom and watching Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes soon after. Try sitting near Crystal Palace for some great family views.
Ok now for the couples here is how to get to my secret spot:
If you take the monorail to the Polynesian Resort and head outside to the beach you can look across the lake and see Cinderella’s Castle. The Polynesian Resort has swings available on a first come first sit basis. To get one on these spots your going to have to get there early as they fill up fast. Anywhere on the beach is a great place to see the fireworks, but for a place even more romantic I suggest venturing just a bit farther.
If you walk past the beach and head out to this little peninsula and sit, it kinda feels like your on an island. (see picture above) There seems to be less people and kids and makes for the most romantic spot to see the fireworks at Walt Disney World. Bring a blanket to sit on, and before you head out grab a couple of drinks from the pool bar.
As your sitting there enjoying the fireworks and sipping on your drinks you will forget you are at Disneyworld and swear your in heaven
I hope you like it. If you have any secret spots let us know in the comment section below.