Top Disney Questions…Answered!

Hello out there! It’s another snow day in the south (at least we have actual snow for this one) so what better time to throw a movie on Netflix and do some blogging? I have joined a few Disney trip planning groups on Facebook, because I like to share my views, help newbies, and learn from others who have been to Disney a lot more that me! I’ve noticed that there are many of the same questions asked on these groups, so I figured I’d do my best to answer some of these questions here. Read on to see if I answer some of your Disney-related queries!

disneysum2017 (65)

When should I go to Walt Disney World? If you can go at any time during the year, the best months for crowds and weather is early to mid-November, and early December, as well as most of January to early February. September crowds tend to be low, but the weather is more unpredictable. There really is no “low’ season anymore due to all the new stuff happening at the parks, so plan to visit when good weather is more likely and crowds won’t be at their peaks. These peak times to avoid if at all possible are spring break, early to mid-summer, and holidays.

mnsshp (54 of 106)

Where should I stay? I always recommend that people stay at a Disney resort hotel if it’s at all in their budget. The perks are just too awesome, and there is a Disney hotel for every budget. There are certain times of year you can get a room on property for under $100! If you have a larger family, you might look at Art of Animation suites or the Cabins at Fort Wilderness. There are so many great resorts on property that you should strongly consider it. If you’re looking for an upscale, amenities-rich experience, look into the deluxe resorts. I have enjoyed both moderate and value resorts, since we are focused on enjoying the parks, and just need a bed, decent pools, and some food.

IMG_0387.JPG

How far ahead should I start planning? I always say, the sooner the better with Disney. Decide on your travel dates, then start researching to decide what tickets you’ll need, where you want to eat and where you’ll stay. Dining reservations can be made 6 months out and Fastpass+ can be made 60 days out for guests staying on property (see? Perks!) Can you plan a trip in a month? Yes, but be prepared to not get the restaurants and Fastpasses you want (character meals book up fast as do FP for popular rides.)

IMG_0464

Should I get the Dining Plan? The Disney Dining Plan has its pros and cons. The prices have gone up for 2018 and now include alcoholic or specialty beverages, so if you don’t imbibe the strong stuff, it might not make financial sense. We love the Dining Plan when it’s free. We get it included with a package at certain times of the year and do our research to get the most out of it. Paying out of pocket for food is going to make the most sense for most families, but do the math and see if it works for you.

IMG_0532

Where/ What do we eat? The Disney parks and resort hotels have every kind of food imaginable, from chicken strips to Kobe beef with bordelaise sauce (seriously, check out the menu for Victoria and Albert at the Grand Floridian here.) Check the Disney website under dining for every menu for every restaurant on property. If you have special dietary needs, alert the staff when you arrive at the restaurant and every effort will be made to accommodate your request.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Where is Harry Potter Land? The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is at Universal Studios Orlando. This is a different park from Walt Disney World Resort. ‘Nuff said.

disneysum2017 (265)

So, there you have it! The most common questions about travel to Walt Disney World answered. Still have questions? Post a comment here!

Advertisements

Halloween with Mickey at the Magic Kingdom: A Trip Report

Hello Disney fans! We just came back from our very first Disney cruise last week and, oh my goodness, was it incredible! (We will share every detail in an upcoming blog post, but stay with me here.) A few weeks before we were set to leave on this wondrous adventure, my husband and I were watching yet another vlog from Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom. I sighed, longing to see the Boo To You Parade and Hallowishes fireworks in person. Then I did what I do from time to time and checked to see if there were tickets for the party available the night before our cruise shipped out (because, remember, there’s no harm in looking!) I think you know where I’m going with this.

SO, our plan changed. We would leave Saturday instead of Sunday, add a night at our cheapie Cocoa Beach hotel, drive out to Orlando (about an hour from our hotel) book a lunch at a resort near the Magic Kingdom, and attend the Halloween party (knowing we would be exhausted the morning of the cruise, but as long as we could get our bodies and luggage on the shuttle, all would be well.) It was not cheap. There I said it and I regret nothing! This was not our most budget-minded move, but more in the vein of, “you only live once and why not go crazy once in a while” But we were so excited–we were going to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!

Sunday afternoon, we drove straight to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge where we had lunch reservations at Whispering Canyon Cafe, one of the many restaurants on my Disney dining wish list. We were early and toured the lobby and grounds of the resort, taking photos in our costumes (Princess Anna, Jyn Erso, and Nick Wilde) with the resort as a gorgeous backdrop. We knew the servers at this establishment had a reputation for acting sassy to guests (on purpose!) so we were ready when the server threw a handful of straws and bev napkins on our table. The food was really good comfort food. Barbecue and bison burgers are the highlights. We finished our meal amused and satisfied and made our way to the boat to Magic Kingdom.

The ride over was serene but cold! I was oh so glad I had made a simple Anna-esque cloak lined in velvet to keep out the wind that was kicking up. It would indeed feel like a Halloween night at this party. We docked at the entrance to the Magic Kingdom at about 3:30, got through bag check and waited with a crowd of people at the entrance gates. I got a chance to see the other costumes and there were some really creative ones and some really simple ones as well. At about 3:50 they started letting people through the tapstiles. We gleefully entered, got our wristbands, and got our picture taken at a Photopass location right in front of the train station, There was no wait for this as I guess people were eager to get into the park.

We had made a couple of fastpasses for Peter Pan and Space Mountain, both of which had insane wait times (when did Disney get so busy in October?) After riding those we did Peoplemover and got our first seasonal treat, which was candy corn ice cream from Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies. Wouldn’t you know, my husband licked it before it could be photographed. It was tasty, and luckily for me, didn’t taste a whole lot like candy corn. We headed towards Main Street on the train from Fantasyland, as it was getting close to party time. We followed the signs to a path behind Main St. where the party festivities were gearing up. We got our trick or treat bags, and got a chance to check out some exclusive party merch (I had to get the 2017 MNSSHP pin with vampire Mickey. So cute!) and hit our first candy spot.

We headed over to Adventureland and rode Pirates of the Caribbean, which was walk on, then hit some trick or treat spots, marked with large inflatable pillars. We happened upon the Cadaver Dans in Frontierland doing a great show of music and bad bad jokes. It was absolutely fantastic. Brer Rabbit was just hanging around in Frontierland causing general mischief and taking selfies with fans. It confirmed that Frontierland is one of my all-time favorite parts of the Magic Kingdom.

We focused mainly on special entertainment and Photopass spots, as there were many spots with “magic photos” especially for the Halloween party. We checked out several character meet and greets, but for us, waiting in lines didn’t seem like a good use of time. Characters like Moana, Jack and Sally, and the Seven Dwarfs had the longest lines. It seemed like when we did get in line, the characters were about to join the parade and wouldn’t be back for 30 minutes or so. That was kind of disappointing. We skipped the first parade, opting to catch the later showing, and headed to the hub area when it was over to get a good spot for Hallowishes fireworks show. We stood off the hub, near the Plaza Ice Cream Shop. What an amazing show! I was so awed.  And the crowd was more sparse than I thought it would be, so we really did have a great view of the castle and pyrotechnics.

 

It was time for more eating and trick or treating. We made our way back to Frontierland where we would watch the second parade showing. It was a spectacular parade. I love the “Boo to You” song and play it on Youtube all the time now. It’s so darn catchy. I wish we had been in a spot with slightly more light for picture taking, but it really made the parade more spooky.

We ended out the evening by (finally) riding Haunted Mansion. All the cast members were dressed even more morbidly that usual. We caught some of the last showing of the castle stage show “A Hocus Pocus Villian Spectacular” but it was indeed midnight and our petite Cinderella was done. We stopped along Main Street and got some last minute photos and caught the bus back to Wilderness Lodge. My poor husband then drove us back to Cocoa Beach as the little one and I promptly passed out. What a great night! I highly recommend this party (as well as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.) The tickets can be expensive, but it’s worth it to cut back somewhere else to make this fit in your budget. The chance to dress up as a favorite Disney princess in the Magic Kingdom is not something you get to do everyday and it was a night I’ll never forget!

So, You Want to Save on Your Disney Trip…We Share Our Strategy!

Maybe you just booked your next Disney trip and are ready for our cost-saving tips. Or, maybe you’re in the dreaming phase (the phase we’re in about 99% of the time.) Either way, our strategy for saving is useful for anyone interested in vacationing at Disney on a budget.

My husband and I divide up vacation prep as follows: I make the spreadsheet, book ADRs, Fastpasses and hotels, and he figures out how we can pay as little as possible for the trip. It works out well, since I obsess over  eating food, not paying for it! This is our process for saving.

  • We start out by seeing what discounts are available for the time period we’re looking to travel. Either that, or we see a great offer, and decide if we can get away from school and work. As you know if you’ve read this blog in the past, we love the free dining promotion.  For us, it’s better than a room discount because we mostly stay at value resorts, where the room discount is not as deep. That is usually offered late summer through December, and we can usually make a short trip happen somewhere in this time frame.
  • Next we start saving. We have a change jar that gets filled up with extra cash, found change etc. which gets turned in at our Credit Union and put in a separate vacation account.

1215500876-money-jar-isolated-9236398

  • Meanwhile, we use a rewards credit card for all our purchases, using it like a debit card. We make sure we never carry a balance on (paying interest is the opposite of what we’d like to accomplish!) We used to use the Disney Chase Visa, but changed to a low fee card with a higher cash back rate. 2% doesn’t seem like much but it adds up over the year or so it takes us to save.

creditcards

  • We pay for our vacation with discounted gift cards. We buy our gift cards online  (with our rewards card) at BJ’s Wholesale Club for $94.99 per $100.00 card. We also use Ebates, which is a handy way to get cash back on your online purchases (1% for BJ’s) It can be time-consuming to type in all the gift card numbers to pay for your trip, but I just picture myself walking down Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom and the time flies by.

homepage-shutterstock

So here’s a rundown of our savings for a $3000 trip (or about a week for 4 people.) We buy $3000 in gift cards from BJ’s for $2849.70. We get $28.49 back in a check from Ebates, and $56.98 back from the credit card (in a credit or straight cash back) For a total savings of $235.77 or roughly 8%.

So with a little discipline and foresight we have found a way to save a pretty significant amount for our vacation.  We have heard of other creative ways such as setting a budget for food, and whatever you save you put in a Disney fund.  So please share your ways to make a trip to the Magic Kingdom a little easier on the wallet. If you’re interested in getting money back on your online purchases from Ebates (yes, you get an actual check!) use this link here

disneysum2017 (725)

 

6 Questions to Ask When Planning A Disney Budget: Part 3

We’re back with the next part of our Disney vacation planning series. The oh-so-important question this time is, “When should we go to Disney?” There are several factors to consider when deciding on the time of year to schedule your trip. Hopefully you have some flexibility in planning and can take advantage of our tips!

Weather: As I’m sure you are aware, central Florida can have some pretty extreme weather. The time of year you choose to go can make or break your trip. We have a zero tolerance policy for humidity and daily rainstorms, so we know to miss June-September. We always strive to visit from early November to December, and have been very fortunate to have wonderful weather.  Highs most days were in the 70’s and low 80’s on our recent trips, and lows were in the 60’s.  On our last two trips there were only 2 days when we needed to wear long pants to the parks during the day. Prices are lower during these times, due to school being in session.

storm
Photo credit: Benjamen Benson via flickr

School Holidays: I’m assuming that there are a few of you out there that are interested in sharing Disney magic with your children. If your children are school-age you may immediately think of visiting during major breaks such as Christmas, summer or spring breaks.  You have to remember that the rest of the nation has the same breaks more or less, meaning the crowd levels are insane and since those periods are in high demand, prices are sky-high. Only you can decide if you want to battle crowds and pay more, or take your kids out of school to visit during a slower time of year.We have taken our daughter out of school in 2nd and 3rd grades, and got her homework for the week before she left. We enjoy special discounts since we are traveling at slower times of the year, and to us that’s worth it. As our daughter gets older, we will have to re-think when we go, since taking her out won’t be an option. Long weekends with teacher work days are an option for shorter trips.

Crowds: Spring break, summer, Christmas, Independence Day. I strongly advise you to avoid these times when planning your trip. The prices will be crazy. The crowds will be crazy. The wait times for rides will be crazy. Get the picture? Besides bad weather, nothing ruins the magic more than large crowds. Yes, I understand the allure of wanting to spend holidays at Disney, but it’s just…not…worth…it. Our top recommendations for low crowds are January-February (excluding holidays), October-November (not Thanksgiving!) and early December. (You can still experience all Disney’s Christmas entertainment in early December.) If you choose to go on the busy times, proceed at your own risk!

crowdsdisney
photo credit: Brett Kiger via flickr

Special Offers: If you are looking for discounts for your Disney trip, there are some that become available throughout the year. Disney usually releases their specials 4 to 6 months ahead of time. This means if you want to travel in May, start looking for offers in December and January. The most common discounts are room only and package deals, and the free dining offer. Disney Tourist Blog has a  great post that talks in-depth about each discount offered. Do the math on any special offer to make sure it works for your situation. We prefer free dining to a room discount, because we stay at moderate or value resorts (which only get a 10-15% room discount) and it saves us more money to get 3 free dining plans for the length of our stay. If you are traveling as a couple and plan to stay in a deluxe resort, the room discount would be a better deal.

As you can see, the timing of your vacation has a big impact on how much you will shell out for your big trip, and how much enjoyment you will get out of your time in the parks. It will be one of the most important decisions to make about your trip so plan wisely. Use our pointers to help you plan for a trip that makes the most sense for you and your budget.

Brunch at California Grill; an Unforgettable Experience

We planned our last Disney vacation to get in on the free dining offer. We booked our stay at a value resort, and upgraded from the complimentary quick-service plan to the standard dining plan (DDP) for a little less than $200 for six days. With the standard plan one of our quick service meals was replaced by a table service credit. It also includes a refillable drink cup to be used at any Disney resort hotel. We really enjoy the quality and variety of the table service restaurants at Disney and prefer them to the standard “burger and fries” world of quick service restaurants.

On our last trip, also with free dining, we enjoyed dinner at California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary to celebrate my husband and my 10 year anniversary. California Grill is a signature restaurant, so if you plan on using the dining plan, each person will have to use 2 credits. I don’t spend my dining credits willy-nilly, so you better believe CG is worth it.

When we found out they were offering a Sunday brunch this year, I jumped on the website and booked a 12:30pm reservation for the 3 of us. Then checked out what the web had to say about it. The reviews were generally positive and we couldn’t wait to experience it.

 

Sunday morning, we walked from the Magic Kingdom over to the Contemporary Resort and took the escalator to the 2nd floor. We checked in and were directed to a special elevator to take us to the top of the resort. We stepped out into a lively scene with a jazz trio playing standards, bartenders busily filling champagne glasses with mimosas and people chatting and eating. The wait to be seated was made much more tolerable with a complimentary mimosa! There’s really not a bad seat in this restaurant, since the windows are huge and there’s a stunning view in every direction. Once we were seated, we were given menus, but told not to worry about ordering our entree at that point, since we had an entire self-serve buffet to enjoy first! The spread was mouth-watering. The stations included a Charcuterie station, a Greek yogurt and toppings station (fresh fruit, granola, and honey comb were on offer) as well as salads, the best deviled eggs ever, pastries, oh, and I almost forgot, sushi! Everything on display was incredibly fresh and tasty. My favorite was the aforementioned deviled eggs and a grain salad called Fregola salad. You can watch a video tour of the whole buffet, including the bloody Mary bar here

After about 10 minutes of noshing, our ever-attentive server was back to see if we were ready to order-that’s right, there’s more! You order an ala carte entree from the brunch menu. It was hard for me to decide between the pancakes (mmmm, pancakes…) and the poached lobster benedict (oh, how I suffer) so the server said it was no problem to add one pancake to my order. Todd got the steak, and little one got the chicken, which she took a bite of, then announced that she was full. The single pancake fulfilled my carb craving and left me with room to enjoy the lobster. Hubby was satisfied with the steak, although he did drip some pesky chimichurri down the front of his shirt and we all picked at the chicken and decreed it delicious, though we were all pretty darn full by this point.

After a few moments of sitting, sipping our coffee and walking outside to the fireworks viewing platform to take in the view, we were presented with dessert. Yes, it continues. Dessert was a selection of small sweets presented on a cake stand. Chocolates, madeleines (which were a tad dry and the only thing we didn’t finish) macarons, and linzer cookies. I’m thoroughly surprised we didn’t have to be wheeled out. Our dining experience took almost 2 hours, so plan this meal around a slow Sunday. You will not want to run to catch your Space Mountain Fastpass right after this meal. And don’t feel guilty about taking a long time. It’s a lot of food, and it’s an experience worth savoring.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

For $80 per adult and $48 per child (see why we like the dining plan?), you are treated like Disney royalty in a beautiful setting overlooking the Magic Kingdom. We thoroughly enjoyed this meal, and if we are on the DDP on a future visit, will definitely try to visit again. Don’t forget to hold on to your receipt so you can come back in the evening and watch Wishes from the observation platform. California Grill’s Brunch at the Top is held  Sundays from 10 am to 1 pm. Cost is $80 per adult and $48 per child. Complimentary valet parking is also available for this event. There’s a link to the full menu here.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

6 Questions to Ask When Making A Budget for Your Disney Trip: Part 1

When planning a Disney vacation there are so many questions that need to be answered when deciding on your budget. We feel that these questions are some of the most important factors in planning your vacation. We often talk about how nice it would be to be able to go at the drop of a hat, and stay at the Contemporary or Polynesian Resort. Unfortunately that is not in our budget! So how do you decide on what you can afford?

These questions will help you figure out what the majority of your budget will be spent on. By spending a little time planning at the beginning you will be able to figure out what works best for your party. You may save a substantial amount of money by looking at the trip this way. Over the next couple of posts we will go into detail about each of these questions.

The first one is “How will we get to Disney?” Your two choices, obviously, are flying or driving. If you don’t live within a day’s drive of Orlando, you will probably be flying. We don’t have much experience first-hand with air travel to Disney, but MouseSavers.com has an entire post dedicated to helping you find a cheap flight. So start looking at your options even before you book your exact travel dates. Many airline sites will give you the cost on a particular day and allow you to search the calendar around your chosen departure date for cheaper fares, so you may discover substantial savings if your travel dates are flexible. Florida does have quite a few airports, so flying to Tampa or Sanford may be more economical. If you do fly to another airport, you have to factor in the cost and hassle of a rental car. If you are staying at a Disney resort and you fly into Orlando International Airport (MCO), Disney provides a free shuttle known as Magical Express, which, in addition to whisking you away to your resort in comfort, lets you bypass baggage claim and have your bags magically brought to your room!

magical-express-bus

If there are many people traveling with you, it may be more cost effective to drive to Disney. We are nine hours away, which is manageable as a day trip.  We have found that if we drive several hours and get a hotel room in Jacksonville, where we can find really cheap rates, we can get up early and get a full day in the park. Same thing when we leave. We left after a full day at the park after seeing Fantasmic! and drove 2 hours to St. Augustine beach, which made the drive the next day a little more enjoyable. And we got some much needed beach time after a crazy and fun-packed week.

20161216_104801

 

Either way you slice it, you’re going to have travel-related expenses (unless you live in Orlando, lucky ducks!) but deciding what mode of transport works best for your family, while keeping an eye out for deals, will be your first decision of many in your Disney trip planning!

Stay tuned for Part 2, as we talk about the next important question, “Where will we stay?”

A Review of “Early Morning Magic” at the Magic Kingdom

Hi everyone! We just got back from our trip on Saturday and are trying to settle back into the routine of making our own coffee and having to make my own bed every morning. Geez, you get so spoiled on vacation. Oh, and Christmas is in 4 3 days but who’s counting? We had a great time at Disney, and forged ahead through lack of sleep, a grumpy nine year old, and a pulled calf muscle (ouch!)

 

We pride ourselves on saving money on our Disney trips, but usually treat ourselves once each trip. Disney is well known for offering upgrades or add-ons for your family vacation. Many folks choose to pay a little more to have an exclusive event added to their itinerary. These include dessert parties, holiday parties, and after hours events. Last spring, Disney debuted a new event known as Early Morning Magic-Fantasyland, and soon after started a similar event in Hollywood Studios. For $69 per adult and $59 per child, your party gains entry to the Magic Kingdom early and has unlimited access to 3 of the most popular rides in Fantasyland-Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Peter Pan’s Flight. Also included in the price is a breakfast buffet, which takes place in Pinocchio Village Haus. I figured, “Hey we’ve paid more than that for a meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table, and I’d much rather ride rides without a wait for an hour. What the heck!” So, I booked our party of 2 adults and 1 child for Tuesday morning (it only occurs on select Sundays and Tuesdays) and planned how I was going to get the 3 of us up and ready so early while on vacation.

We were ready to go by 6:45 am (miraculously) and decided not to trust our fates to Disney transportation. We drove to the Ticket and Transportation Center (did you know you can park free at any of the parks with your resort parking pass?) and as we entered the TTC, a Cast Member asked us if we had early dining reservations. We explained we were doing Early Morning Magic and he ushered us over to an area where a bus was waiting-apparently only the resort monorail runs that early in the morning. We were whisked away on our “private” bus to the front of the Magic Kingdom by 7:25, got our bags checked quickly and were greeted by a cast member asking if we had early reservations. We were directed to a line at the far left of the entryway to the park. This queue consisted of the Early Morning Magic folks as well as all people with pre-park opening reservations at Crystal Palace, Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table. A cast member came through and checked our Magic Bands for our reservations and gave the three of us each a special wristband.

 

At 7:44, there was quite a crowd behind us, and at 7:45 am on the dot, the rope was dropped and the crowd surged through the tunnels under the train station and out into Town Square. We walked at our quick but relaxed pace, got some nice shots on Main Street (they did have Photopass photographers out!) and in front of the Castle.

We immediately went to 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, where CMs were checking for wristbands, and rode 5 times in about 20 minutes. We then walked over to Winnie the Pooh, and rode twice. You had to get off of the ride each time, but walking back through the queue took only a few seconds. Then over to Peter Pan, which we rode 4 times. We each sat in a different spot each time so we could see new unique details in the ride. It was approaching 8:45 am now, and folks who had rushed through their early breakfasts were already lined up at 7DMT, but were not yet permitted to get on the ride. We sailed past them and rode again 2 times. Then it was 9, the park was officially open, and we decided to get over to Space Mountain to ride before the lines started. We actually waited about 20 minutes to ride Space Mountain, and then it was time for breakfast!

 

We sauntered back over to Fantasyland and showed our wristbands to the CMs at the front of the restaurant. There was a well-stocked double sided buffet with breakfast goodies, as well as coffee, juice and hot water for tea. There was fruit, frittatas, french toast, bacon, sausage, assorted meat and cheeses, and a selection of pastries. The restaurant was not at all crowded and the food was hot and fresh. We went up several times and only felt slightly rushed when a CM offered to “clean all that up” for us as we sat lazily talking and sipping coffee (this was about 10:15 am) Understandably, they had to get the dining room ready for lunch. All the staff there was very friendly, and a couple of Cast Members stopped to talk to us and offered to take our picture. So, by 10:30 am, we had ridden 4 of the most popular rides at the Magic Kingdom, got some great photos taken and enjoyed a delicious breakfast.

 

So, the question is always, “Is it worth it?” To which I usually reply, “It depends.” Is it in your budget to splurge a bit? If so, I think this add-on is a good value for what you get. Do you like rides? My daughter is crazy about the Mine Train and I adore Peter Pan, so for us, it was really exciting to ride multiple times without waiting. If your little one is more interested in meeting princesses, an ADR at Cinderella’s Royal Table is a better splurge. We had a blast and I’d certainly consider doing it again. Disney Early Morning Magic-Fantasyland runs on select Sundays and Tuesdays from 7:45-10:00 am, breakfast is available from 8:30-10:00 am. Regular theme park admission is required.

 

10 Things We Love about Walt Disney World: Pt. 1

I think a lot of people are confused when we tell them how much we, the adults love being at the Disney parks. Yes, a huge part of it is sharing Disney magic with our 8 year old, especially when she was in her six year old full-blown princess obsession. Even at eight, watching her eyes light up when she met Cinderella’s Prince Charming was unforgettable. Aside from that, there are many reasons why we are so in love with this most amazing place. Here they are, in no particular order.

  1. Main Street, U.S.A. Walking through the gates of the Magic Kingdom into Town Square, bustling with activity, and making your way through the crowd to Main Street (representing an American town between 1890-1910) is a first you’ll never forget. There are so many things to love about this section of the park. The Main Street Trolley Show is a song and dance show that takes place every morning with dancers in seasonal turn-of-the-century costumes. The Main Street Vehicles take weary visitors up the hill towards Cinderella Castle. There are countless details to take in. Make sure to read up on all the little details the Imagineers conjured up, like the party line telephone where you can listen in on some good old-fashioned housewife gossip. Don’t hurry through this part of the park. There is so much to discover.

    SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
    Main Street Trolley Show
  2. The Monorails: What can I say about this mode of travel around the Seven Seas Lagoon, and to Epcot, except that it’s pretty darn cool. Especially when it goes through the Contemporary Resort. It’s transportation that is so uniquely Disney!

    SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
    Monorail at Epcot
  3. The parades. Specifically the Festival of Fantasy parade at Magic Kingdom. Watching for Maleficent’s mechanical dragon to breathe fire never gets old. The costumes are, well, fantastic, and the floats are so imaginative and fun. It’s also a great chance to see many characters, from princesses and princes, to Mickey and his buddies.

    wd082wdw2015091212986926
    Colorful Dancer at the Festival of Fantasy Parade
  4. The food. Yes, for a theme park, Disney has some amazing food. We love the character buffets, such as Crystal Palace, at Magic Kingdom, and Tusker House, at Animal Kingdom, for meeting characters and filling up for the day, but there is literally something for everyone. For example, Epcot has a veritable world of dining options for every taste in World Showcase, from Moroccan to Norwegian to French and beyond. We recommend “eating around the world” if your stomach (and wallet) are up for it.

    SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
    Epcot’s Very Own English Pub
  5. The Characters. Yes, I’ll admit it. I get giddy when meeting my favorite characters from childhood, whether it is Tinkerbell, Mary Poppins, or Piglet. There is just something magical about interacting with characters you’ve read about or watched in films. I think what makes it so special is that the cast members who play the characters are so completely committed to bringing those characters fully to life. It was so much fun to hear Anna talk about her adventures with Olaf and Kristoff, and to listen to Mary Poppins give my daughter advice on cleaning her room. I can’t stress this enough-you don’t have to be a kid to meet and enjoy the characters. Just willing to let a little magic in your heart!
mk_pfthbluec2char_7523836731
Anna Sharing Stories from Arendelle

How to these compare to your favorite things? Look for the next five things we’re crazy about at Walt Disney World coming soon!