December 28, 2016

{Disney Bound | Disney Lessons}

Oh how many things I learned on our trip to the house of mouse. As much as I really love Disney, I learned things that I will definitely remember for future trips (should I plan any in the near future). So I thought I'd share them with you (and also this helps me be able to look back and remember lol).

1. Take a break. You'll thank me later!
We got to Disney World on Sunday afternoon. We had a nice relaxing day of wandering the resort and swimming. Even though some of our experiences weren't too magical, I was still excited to be there. Originally we planned on visiting one park a day, or possibly skipping Animal Kingdom and doing Magic Kingdom two days in a row. Either way, we had booked our resort for five nights. Thinking that would be plenty of time. It was. We got all the parks done. However, what we didn't take into consideration was the amount of walking we would be doing. I'd been to Disney Land so I knew it was quite a bit, but the world is so much bigger than the land that I guess I just didn't let it sink in that we needed to schedule some down time also. This resulted in blisters, sore feet, and attitude from two teenagers and a husband. If you're going with children (as most of you probably are), schedule a down day. Explore Orlando, go to the beach, if you're staying at the resort, maybe do something there. Or you could visit Disney Springs for some laid back shopping instead of hustling from one attraction to the other trying to get them all in. Trust me, your feet and your sanity will thank you later!

2. Check cheer leading competition schedules!
I didn't even think of this when planning our trip. I didn't read anything about it on any of the planning sites I visited and there was nothing about it on any crowd calendar that I can recall. But when we were in Magic Kingdom (our 2nd to last park of our trip) we noticed there was an unusual amount of teenage girls there. And they were loud, annoying, and rude. During our haunted mansion ride they were taking flash photography (a big no no as it ruins the ride for everyone else) and being insanely loud. Like to the point where we couldn't hear what was being said. In fact, I yelled for them to shut up during Madam Leota's part because they were yelling to one another. It was ridiculous to say the least. At Animal Kingdom we were met with much longer lines toward the end of our day because the girls had shown up also. And once again, they were loud and rude. I will never again go when I know cheer leading competitions are scheduled.

3. Don't follow the herd!
I read this on plenty of other planning sites but I thought it was worth a mention. It's how we ended up walking on a lot of rides. Everyone went one way, and we went the opposite. It was genius and made for a much more enjoyable day.

4. Don't leave your stuff unattended!
I know it's tempting to leave those souvenirs and diaper bags hanging on your stroller while you're taking the small people on their favorite ride or meeting their favorite character. Don't. Strollers are not looked after by cast members. They are parked outside the ride, usually right along side the path everyone and their neighbor is walking down, and can easily be gone through before anyone realizes it's happening. I talked to one woman from Canada who was visiting with her two littles. Their wallet had been stolen and by the time she realized it, her cards were already maxed out and she was getting emails from every card/bank she had alerting her to strange activity. She told me all of this while standing in line to meet Mickey. I could not imagine. I believe she said she left her bag as she went on a ride, thinking it would be safe. It's not. People are friggin' shady everywhere! Even the happiest place on earth.

5. Your souvenirs don't have to come from the parks!
We bought a few things in the parks. But I knew before we even went that we would not be spending a ton of money in the parks on things I knew I could find somewhere else cheaper. Turns out, there is a Disney outlet mall right there about 10 - 15min from Disney (at least it was from the Port Orleans resort). Their merchandise is discontinued or clearance items. There was a lot of Halloween stuff (since it was Christmas time when we went). We bought my niece last years Disney princess castle for $40 that would have run us $140 had we bought this years at the parks! Insane! We also bought my nephew a cool Good Dinosaur toy at discount and Owen a plush Sorcerer Mickey that he had been eye balling in the stores every time we found one. We also picked up some little things that we ended up giving as gifts. It's worth the stop. We spent $100 and got about $300 worth of merchandise. So definitely look into it if you're wanting souvenirs. You could easily do this on your down day.

6. Don't rush.
I know it's tempting to rush from one attraction to the next, but don't. Or at least try not to. You spent a lot of money on this trip. You should get to enjoy it. Stop and take pictures, let the photopass cast members take your picture. Look for hidden mickey's! Your trip is as magical as you make it. So see everything you can, but enjoy every single second.

7. The Dining Plan is Worth It!
We were completely confused by this dining plan thing when we got there. We got the one quick service and one snack per person per day option. It was more than enough food. And despite some websites saying the places are sticklers for who's eating off the kids menu and sharing, we found that most of the places we ate at the parks, were not that way at all. We did have an issue with a Mexico place saying we couldn't substitute a desert for a drink but that was the only place that had an issue with it. If you're not sure of what to do or what's going on, ask a cast member. They get questions every single day and they know what they're talking about. What I thought was kind of dumb was that you couldn't look on the app or the website to see how many meal/snack credits you had left. You had to pay for your food and it was at the bottom of your receipt. It would have been much more helpful had it been accessible through the app. Everything else is, I don't see why that's not. Maybe someday right?

Also for those that don't know, you don't have to let your left over credits go to waste. You paid for that stuff, speak to your resort food court about turning in your remaining meal credits for snack credits. We loaded up on all kinds of goodies because we had so many left over. We got food for our trip home, pez dispensers, and even some goofy candy.

8. Send those purchases to the front of the park!
I was so thankful for this service. Especially after Owen purchased a light saber, a huge one, at the beginning of our day at Hollywood Studios. We sent it to the front of the park and picked it up without issue when we were done for the day. I didn't have to carry it all day and I didn't have to worry about it being stolen. If you're staying on property you can also send your purchases to your hotel, but that takes a day I think they said. I didn't want to make him wait that long for it. This service is not just for on site guests either, you can send it to the front even if you're staying off property! Do it people!

If you choose not to, know that most rides allow you to take your bags on with you. In most cases there is a storage space under the seat or in front of you on the back of a seat. I found this to be helpful a few times.

9. Unzip your bags!
If you're carrying a bag into the park, it has to be checked. There are no exceptions. Even empty have to be checked. It's faster to just unzip all your pockets before you get the guard. Do that. My advice would be to just carry a cross body with you. Mine was plenty big enough for a couple soda bottles, our ponchos (cause it's going to rain!), and random things I brought with me into the park. Unless you need a diaper bag or you're bringing sack lunches into the park, just bring a small bag. Make it easier on yourself.

10. Bring snacks!
Lines get super long. Never judge a line by the wait time posted or the fact that you can't see a line coming out the entrance. You could still be standing there for an hour or more. Especially if the ride is kind of slow. I don't know how many times someone whined that they were hungry and I pulled out a small package of cheese itz or some trail mix. It was so helpful. Or, get use a snack credit right before you enter the line. Chances are, you'll be able to eat it before you get on the ride.

11. There's FREE WiFi!
A lot of people don't know this, but there is free WiFi in the parks and it's pretty decent. In fact, I turned off the mobile data for everyone's phones while were there and just used Disney WiFi. It dropped out a few times but was still better than eating up all our data while Owen, Gaige, and Dave played Pokemon Go in the lines. So bring a device for the kids to entertain themselves with and make it easier to deal with the boredom of standing in line after line.

Alrighty, I think that's enough for now. If I think of some more I'll make another post. Feel free to ask any questions and if I have the answers I'd be happy to help! If I don't have them, I can probably point you in the direction to find them lol.

Disclaimer: I am not a Disney World expert. This is just for my own experience as a first timer at Disney World.