Anna and Elsa from the new Disney hit movie Frozen are new princess stars. We are NOT standing in line to meet them but got a few close looks in the Fantasyland Parade and also from the gift shop in Norway in Epcot.
As I write this, we are vacation. You already know that if you follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. We are on yet another Disney vacation. As Miss E reminded us on the way here, this is her fourth Disney vacation in her six years of life.
Are we those crazy Disney vacationers? Not really. My parents like Florida and Disney for its convenience, consistent warm weather and variety of activities you can choose from. We have learned from their tips and tricks and figured out a few of our own like when we went on a Disney cruise last April. This vacation we joined my parents.
Let’s face it. After 70 days of BELOW ZERO temperatures, the coldest winter in Nathan or my lifetime (and our kids) on the North Dakota prairie, we couldn’t stand to take our previously planned ski trip. We needed to thaw. We needed a vacation from winter. Florida and Disney, it is.
I have a few friends taking upcoming Disney vacations and have gotten questions on what to bring, what to use, tips and tricks. I could write a lot on this and yet there are oodles of websites out there written by dedicated experts for die-hard Disney vacationers. It might not be anything new what I write. And it is random but here are a few things that work for us.
1. Pay with cash. Seems simple enough. Disney is never a cheap vacation. Don’t come home with credit card you can’t pay for. Save, save, save cash for a family fun vacation. This was the first family vacation I had to use cash to buy plane tickets because of my less travel I didn’t have enough miles for frequent flyer tickets. Gulp. It costs a lot more to go on vacation now.
2. Stay at a Disney resort, on property and if you are flying into Orlando, use the Magical Express. Your luggage magically appears in your room a few hours after your arrival at the resort. Staying on property allows you to use the bus system to get to parks. Avoid parking headaches all together. Plus, Disney resorts that we have stayed at are clean and their customer service is the best in my extensive traveling experience. And I have slept in too many hotels in my lifetime as has my former corporate flying husband. We love Disney’s attention to detail.
3. Keep your swimming clothes in your carry-on bag. When you get to your resort, go swimming until your luggage arrives in your room.
4. Disney Dining Plan. Yes it saves you cash. Unless you are eating bread and peanut butter all week. I know people buy groceries and make their own food to save money. I commend you for doing it. But I love Disney’s food and I love a vacation from cooking. My husband says the Disney Dining Plan seems expensive when you are paying up front but he thinks it saves us about 40% over paying on our own. We eat lavishly on the Disney Dining Plan, thanks to my dad’s savvy planning and reservations usually. Book your reservations ahead of time, far in advance for the character meals. You will figure out the ropes quickly.
I have bought Disney princess dresses second-hand in the past. This time I bought handmade from an Etsy vendor. They are more affordable and better quality and that makes all of us smile. The girls don’t care. They just want to be princesses for a short while and then change into shorts! The dresses become play clothes at home.
5. Pack the most comfortable shoes you own. And your second most comfortable pairs of shoes you own. That’s it for shoes. It’s all you need. No need for fashion statements. You are going to be walking. A lot. And for that matter pack comfy clothes all together. It’s long days in the parks but comfy shoes and clothes make it easier.
6. Bring your strollers for kids. Your own strollers. Many people rent strollers but I think it is easier to have your own along between your resort and inside the parks. And yes even school-age kids need strollers. We have two umbrella strollers along for Miss A and Miss E this trip. Their little legs get tired and it’s a great place for a nap.
9. Umbrellas come in handy. We had two in our backpack after looking at the forecast yesterday. The girls and I dashed across Epcot in a hard rain and used them! Actually Miss E and I dashed and pushed Miss A in a stroller.
10. Bring some ground coffee in your suitcase. There is never enough in your hotel room. Or maybe that is just Nathan and me. We need a pot in the morning.
11. Don’t waste your dining plan. Snacks can be used for breakfasts. We stock our hotel room fridge with yogurt parfaits, muffins, fruit and juice. We don’t use our quick service meals on hotdog stands. We go to a restaurant like Wolfgang Puck’s Express in Downtown Disney and get a fabulous sit-down meal with a huge selection that makes everyone in our family happy from salads, to meaty pizzas and pastas and a great kids menu. And the bake shop in Norway? It has the best pastries that make for yummy snacks. But I am a biased Norwegian ancestry girl.
12. FAST PASSES. The My Disney Experience app and website makes it easy as ever to sign in with your reservations and customize your trip. You can sign up for THREE fast passes a day in a selected park. It gives you a few options of times. You can avoid LONG lines with these time-saving passes. Trust me. You also might go early to the parks in the morning and hit a slow time and not need fast passes but by noon, you will love having them. Many of our days are planned on park days around fast pass times and a big meal dining reservation.
13. Take a day or two or three for down time, away from the parks. We have done the whole go hard to the parks and go home Disney vacation and come home wiped out. So now we stay longer and use Park Hopper passes that gives us flexibility to what days we go to the Disney parks.
Today we didn’t go to any parks. Find things that you enjoy to unwind. Swim in your resort. Walk and shop Downtown Disney. Book a massage. (Because of course Disney has a Spa!)
The girls had a blast in the Lego store today. We went to a movie today and the Disney Quest arcade.
Take a nap outside at your resort. Thaw from winter.
Hunter rented a basketball at our resort and has shot baskets outside for the past two nights. Yesterday Nathan golfed. For three days this week, my parents and Hunter are attending spring training baseball games of the Atlanta Braves on Disney property. They can take buses to get there. Easy and fun downtime.
We have tried new restaurants, new rides and new adventures this trip, most in part to the detailed planning of my dad and husband. I will be posting more of our fun in coming days. Stay posted also Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
What Disney vacation tips and tricks do you have? I’m up for learning more!