It's been a MONTH ago today since we left on our Disney Vacation.
My word, life is just flying right by me!
I hate that!
I want to do all the things and see all the things!!
Where on earth has this last month gone?
Thanks to the fancy editing work of my buddy Albert ~ some of my favorite pictures and tips are getting some publicity, which means I'm getting more questions about out trip, which means I need to get caught up over here!
Three years ago, I shared my top tips I had learned about going to DisneyWorld -
You can read them here...
I actually laughed out loud when I read them...
Apparently I guessed on how much the character dining might cost - because I'm pretty sure it hasn't gone up THAT much in the 3 years since we've been...
but current pricing for Character dining?
Guests ages 10 and up
Guests ages 3 to 9
So yeah...the Disney Character dining?
We can (and did, again...) do without at DisneyWorld...
$200 for dinner with the characters for this family of four?
We DID however, partake in not one, but two, OTHER character dining events while in Orlando and I felt we got a great bang for our buck there...
Here's the deal you guys - This trip was not as much fun for us as it was the first go round. We're three years older...all of us.
Are the hubs and I getting old and hardened to some of the magic?
Our kids weren't as impressed by the magic as they were the first time...that was for certain.
Without getting into the nitty gritty of the bad...
you know, where a box of tampons at Disney world ends up costing you $18.00, and you are at their mercy because you don't have a car to find a discount store anywhere nearby...and you spend an entire night on the floor of the bathroom of your gorgeous hotel room at Animal Kingdom Lodge because you are so dehydrated...
I won't share those details with you...
but here are my top tips, in no particular order ~
* USE GARDEN GROCER
If you do not have a car, (and really, if you are sticking around the Disney area...you can easily get around without one...) use. the. GARDEN. GROCER! I knew this was a fabulous idea last time we went - thanks to my friend Gina!!, but I didn't realize just how much of a lifesaver this was. Snacks, WATER!!, a plain old PB&J sandwich...This is a must.
You do NOT need a kitchenette...but have the garden grocer bring you a case or two of water, and some caffeinated beverages, and some snacks...Disney lets you bring in your own food and drink. Do it! We were at the mercy of the hotel and parks for all of our meals.
Blech. Not only was a cup of yogurt $3.00 (you know, the kind you buy at your local grocer for .50 when they AREN'T on sale???) But a single chocolate chip cookie was $4.99! My husband said - 'It's pretty hard to price me out of a chocolate chip cookie, but they've done it!' HA!
I actually tried to get Garden Grocer halfway through our trip, but they were too booked up to take on any last minute orders. BOO! HISS!
* GET THE PHOTO PASS - AND PREORDER THE PHOTOPASS!
I knew we wanted the photopass, and we stopped the photopass folks every chance we got, but I did not prepay for the trip. That little oversight cost me $50 extra. You get a discount when you prepay. I wasn't thrilled with most of our Disney Photopass pictures this time around...but they did capture several of our whole family...and even though the price of their CD is outrageous, so is buying individual pictures. It's easier to buy the whole CD than take out a loan for individual pictures. Lots of the pictures are terrible this go round...I don't know why, but they are. Shadows, squinting. What are you going to do? In fact, we even got some pictures of random other kids, that aren't ours, on our photopass. Here's hoping that those families ALSO got their pictures, or some kid who waited in line to meet Pocahontas is going to be sad they don't have those photos!
* PUT YOUR SMARTPHONE TO GOOD USE!
We did not have a smartphone three years ago when we went to DisneyWorld. This time, we were armed with a couple, three of them. The Windows 8x Phone was a God Send. Our kids were soo not going to wait in line to meet any characters this trip. Three years ago, our girl would have waited all day long for a chance to meet one princess. Not true anymore. She waited for one Heroine, and one Heroine only. Merida, from Disney's Brave. And oh, did we WAIT! When it was finally our turn, after just over an hour, and many, many people jumping out of line -
I was able to use the Windows 8x phone and fire off shot after shot after shot after shot with it...
Want to know a secret? Some of them were blurry and didn't turn out at all, so I deleted them. The photo sequence you see above are shots I was able to fire off in my 60 second time frame my girl had with Merida...
I was worried about not having my DSLR...but I didn't need to be. With today's technology - The right phone will be amazing. Trust me.
Have you seen my favorite shot taken via smartphone?
We also downloaded an app called 'Disney Wait Times' and that, my friends - was GREAT! Using Verizon's 4G service in the parks, we were able to pull up all sorts of info at our fingertips...Including where characters were, how long the wait times to meet said characters (approximately) and also find out how long the waits certain rides were.
Worth trucking it across Epcot to see about riding Test Track (our family's favorite ride this trip!)? Well, a quick peek at the phone would tell you if it was 15 minutes, or 120 minutes. No need to rush from here to there to everywhere, when you could get a pretty accurate account via the smartphone!
Of course, you can also use a SmartPhone to pass the time while you are waiting in line...play a game, make some fun videos of yourselves at Disney, Skype with Grandma? How on earth did we live without these contraptions before?
This is getting long...and those really are my best tips from this trip...my top three if you will. I think I'll close with that.
We stayed at different hotels during our trip to Florida. Some people thought we were crazy, and I'll be honest, I was worried too. But here's the thing - if you are in the Disney Area - it's just a quick ($20) cab ride from one place to the next...
And if you are staying on Disney Property - they'll not only take you, but they'll also take your luggage from one hotel to the next for you - so all you have to do is show up later. So you pack up your luggage, send it off with the bell man, and head out for the day -
When you return to your hotel for the night - your luggage should be waiting for you in your room!
Pretty slick really.
Disney does know how to move people, and their luggage, pretty quickly and efficiently.
I think my top tip for myself, which won't work for us, or for all of you guys either...Is a person really needs to try to do this trip more than once in a lifetime, or once every three years.
Because we'd only been there once before as a family, we wanted to see all the things and do all the things and it was a constant run run run.
While we did spend a good deal of time playing in the amazing pools at Nick Hotel and the Art of Animation Hotel...
Part of me had a hard time relaxing because I was thinking about how much money we had ponied up for our 6 day Disney passes and I kept thinking we should be using them as much as possible.
Our kids, however, they could have just swam 24/7. They practically did too. Swimming at 11 pm, 11 am...any chance they got really.
And who could blame them? Temps were below zero back home in Minnesota, and mid to high 70's and sunny in Florida!
Perhaps if we went every year to Florida, for say, 3 or 4 days of Disney, and 3 or 4 days of R&R...maybe some of the rushrushrush runrunrun would be eliminated?