Thursday, March 29, 2012

MY tips for a successful Disney Trip

This is a warning. Coming from me and my coffee induced buzz, I warn you that the title may say ‘Disney’ but that will NOT halt me in any way from using the words fuck, shit, and any made up words I feel to express myself.

And please don’t take those words as negativity towards Disney, I big puffy red heart Disney… a fucking lot.

So with out further having to explain myself. Here is what I think you need to know before dragging your children to the most magical place on earth. (in no particular order)

Notes. Our party included 7 people. Myself, husband, Blue. Daughter Tink who is almost 6. Son Buzz who is almost 4. My Mom, Queen. Dad, Carrots. And sister Frances (who has a disability, she CAN walk, but those parks exhausted her. So a wheelchair helped her keep up)

Moving on…

  1. Bring The Endyour OWN strollers. YES they have them BUT it’s a small arm and a leg to rent. We opted for the umbrella strollers with storage underneath. Small enough to get around, but comfy for the kids.
  2. TAKE AN EARLY flight. You WILL be tired regardless. Ours was a 6 AM flight out of Chicago. So you do the backwards time, we were up at 2 am, picked up at 3 am, airport by 4 am, for naked cartwheels security and boarding. Same note, take a LATE flight home. We had a 7:35 pm flight out of Orlando. Again do the time you need to get to hotel, picked up, security…
  3. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT do Magic Kingdom the day you get there. Or the day you leave. We did, and it was ROUGH. I suggest something like Animal Kingdom for one of those days.
  4. Magic Kingdom is NO JOKE. It’s easily a 3 day park. We did it with two 1/2 days. We saw Adventureland, the Electric Parade, Fireworks and a character dinner the first day. YES that’s it. So the day we left we went back to cover Fantasyland (Rapunzel meeting was an hour wait, and THAT was a short wait from what we heard. Some waited for 3 hours other days) rode the train around the park to Adventureland to do the Pirates ride we missed on Monday. And out the park by 2 to go back for the shuttle. So we missed the WHOLE Tommorowland and Libertyville (we were OK with that) AGAIN give Magic Kingdom it’s respectful time!
  5. Hollywood Studios is ALL about SHOWS. Sit with a time guide sheet (at front of the park) and get your schedule straight RIGHT away.
  6. Hollywood Studios. IF you have a Star Wars fan who is between the ages of 4 and 12 years old. GO RIGHT TO THE ABC studios FIRST thing when you get in to sign up for Jedi Training. You get this…Jedi Training Academymagical little piece of paper. Park opened at 9:00 am that day. I ditched EVERYONE else (Blue took my bag to get checked) took Buzz in the stroller and JOGGED through the park to the sign up (YOU MUST HAVE THE KID WHO IS SIGNING UP WITH YOU) we arrived at 9:24 am, and got the second to LAST show. Not kidding. It fills up before the first hour. And YES it’s worth it. (See Buzz fighting Darth Vader!!)
    Fight Darth ready
  7. Same thing goes for Toy Story Mania. This is your fast pass ride. No 2 hour wait for us. OH and again, GO GET YOUR FAST PASS EARLY. By 11:30 am ALL Fast Passes were OUT for the WHOLE park.
  8. Do the dining plan. Seems to expensive? You should try eating out of pocket there. HOLY SHIT. $2.49 for a bag of Cheetos? Dinner for Blue and I was a personal pizza, a Italian sandwich, two drinks… $34.87. THANK YOU dining plan.
    Oh and you get these BIG mugs to use ONLY at the resorts for drink refills. ANYTHING at the self serve can go in these. Hot chocolate, coffee, pop, tea, juice… DO NOT take them to the park. Bulky, and from what we heard they get stolen often.
  9. Gratuity is NOT included in the character dinners on a dining plan. AND they suggest anywhere from $20-$40 for tips.
  10. Get a Disney Visa card before you go. You get 10% off after you spend $50 in a store (AND remind the store workers when you check out of your discount. They forget EVERYTIME!) And if your like me you’ve used it for the last 7 years and saved ALL your points and finally cash out a Disney Card worth $250 to use on ANYTHING in ANY PARK (or Disney Store at home)
  11. KNOW your maps. KNOW where bathrooms are. I studied the maps before I went. I took a month to borrow the 2012 Disney book from the library. I read what TO DO and what TO SKIP.
    I then had a page a day and made a loose agenda. As in each day we had a dinner with characters in each park RSVP’d. If there was a parade, or like in Epcot, Blue was to dive at a certain time.
  12. SOMEONE HAS TO BE “Julie the Cruise Director”… otherwise your all over the fucking place, sweating, swearing, tripping over people, rushing, and missing SO much. TAKE THE TIME TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK. (carry a clipboard if you feel it helps… I didn’t)
  13. Don’t expect to relax. Don’t expect to sleep.Day four hot mess Do expect to be brainwashed by the songs “It’s a Small World” and “In the TikiTikiTikiTiki Room”
  14. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Not sure why some women were in heels. You will be in about 2% of the pictures. YOUR KIDS will be in 98% of them. I even had mine coordinate with the park they were in.Fish TankYES she is at the Animal Kingdom wearing an animal print dress. YES he has a yellow shirt to match with his sister, and it has Donald Duck on the front (from Target) and we saw Donald that day for our breakfast. And the fish JUST so happened to match.
  15. I packed TWO outfits a day for each kid. IN a zip lock bag that on the front read the park. The shoes to go with (yes they each had at least 2 different pairs of shoes) and what day of the week it was. One outfit on. One to take with in the park, just incase. Also helpful for the hotel, since I was a zombie in the morning, grabbing a bag was easier then trying to match clothes… all I had to do was remember what day of the week it was.
  16. Tink (my daughter Tink… not THE Tink) was a Houdini in the parks. Magic Kingdom was Rapunzel dress…Mia excited But then it was also Tinkerbell and Peter Pan day…DSCN2831

this was a dress (not sure where from) but has Tink on it. YES she had LAYERS on, and we would switch outfits via character (don’t think I’m super nuts, just part nuts but this was what she wanted. And it was NOTHING to carry around a little dress for her.


17. So onto my bag. I carried a messager bag. I only needed my wallet, camera, and a small pouch with my inhaler, chapstick, and antibacterial in it. The BIG center was the map, and bag with extra clothes in it. Oh and snacks.

18. Snacks. Pack them. My mom the wizard packed a carry-on suitcase FULL of food. Granola bars, apples, fruit roll ups, oatmeal for the mornings in the hotel rooms. Anything you like to snack on to keep you and the kids happy. Remember full tummies are happy people.

19.  Sunblock. I need not say much more. It’s Florida people.

20.  Realize that if you don’t get to see EVERYTHING it’s going to be ok. I knew going in we wouldn’t even see a whole part of the Magic Kingdom. And I was fine with it. Rushing the kids everywhere makes them unable to appreciate what the did see!

21. We didn’t take a day at the pool. We just didn’t’ have the time. If your there for more then 5 days, sure, or if you want to skip a park. You can schedule some Florida sun in. The way I saw it, we have sunshine, and a pool at home we can see.

22. We stayed at the All Star Movies. Great hotel. Clean hotel. TINY room. But you know what we did in that room? Sleep. Dress. Shower. Never touched the t.v. again unless you are going to have a few days to relax around the place, a small room in a value hotel ON PROPERTY is best (the perks of staying ON property are nice)

23. As crazy and as busy as you are, try to take in all the detailsSign into MK

This is above the large doorway into Magic Kingdom, or the native birds were awesome too.

White Ibis

24. Cameras. I have a Nikon. It’s a point and shoot. It’s nice. Takes video too. It’s all I needed. My dad left his fancy pants SLR at home. To bulky and he trusted I would paparazzi the shit out of all of us anyway.

Video during the Character meet and greets. This is a neat trick I do. Take the video home, put on your computer. Play it. Pause the shot you would like to be a picture. Push the button on your keyboard (next to the F12) titled “PRTSC” it stands for “Print Screen”

Open your Paint software, click Paste. It should paste WHATEVER was on your screen into paint. Click ‘Crop’ draw a box around what you want to be your picture (edit out the rest of the page) click ‘Crop’ again when you are done…wala. You’ve now got pictures, from your video. Save them to your computer. (I didn’t tell you to do this but if you do this to ANY website, ANYTHING you see on your screen you can print screen to paint, crop to what you want and save it.)

25. Disney Photo Pass. It’s a must. It’s FREE to do. Give them your card (get one I think at the Photo stations at the park) they take your picture, scan your card. And when you GET HOME. You can sit and look at their pictures.

They will also take YOUR camera and take pictures for you. Because when you get home, they will charge you $14.95 for two 4x6 pictures. YES it’s insane… but see tip #24 here for a really good idea on getting around that.

26. I scrapbook. Both digital and paper form. And I’m going to do a paper scrapbook of this. NOW I usually do a digital one with SO many shots. BUT there are SO many things I want to add, tickets, cards, memorabilia. I will take the time and to this in my own hand made books.

On that note, EVEN IF YOU DON’T scrapbook, bring a notebook. Each night before you pass out, write out (bullet point style if you need) all the memories from that day. Don’t think you can do it the next day. By 11 am on day two you will forget what you did an hour prior. WRITE IT DOWN.

27. Take pictures on busses, waiting in line, some of my best shots were NOT at a park! (bus ride to Hollywood Studios to meet her favorite guy… Woody)

Woody on his way to Hollywood 3

28. Look into cool things. Just having a Disney Visa at Epcot, got us a special Meet and Greet with Mickey Mouse, and Pluto. NOT RUSHED. They danced with the kids, and we got about 10 minutes with them.

AAA member? Take the perks that go with it. I reserved us in the preferred seating for the fireworks. Tink flew over our heads, and we had tables and chairs to sit at.

Another AAA perk was at Epcot, I reserved ‘Story Time’. You get a random character, you find out when they come on stage who it is. My kids had no idea, but my sister, myself and my mom were elated to see Mary Poppins! She read a story, chatted with us, and took pictures, signed the autograph books and book marks for us. OH and there were FIVE kids there. Yes 5. VERY cool, and all because we are AAA members!


So I came across a random picture in a brochure. And googled this in Disney’s Epcot to find out that if you are a certified diver, you can dive in the 6 million gallon tank at the Seas with Nemo and Friends.

Well Blue is a certified diver, LOVES to dive, and so for his birthday my parents bought him a dive. About $175 per person. MUST have your certified card with you. (and they have other scuba things that you do not need to be certified for)

Here he is, in the water, watching his two kids. WE LOVED it. HE LOVED it. His visibility here at home when he dives is about 5-10 feet ahead. Here it was 203 feet ahead. OMG. He said it was amazing!

Daddy and kids

28.  Be ready for rain. But you don’t NEED a $8 poncho if it does. Bought myself and the kids theirs and it rained for 7 minutes. Oh and enjoy the little moments. Like jumping in puddles.

After the rain play

29. Be prepared to be visually fucked. It’s a Small World is amazing. Little kids love the colors, the people, the animals. It’s a LOT like it was in 1990, but it’s so bright and pretty and visually overwhelming. I loved it.

On that note be prepared to take a few days to let your over processed brain stop. I shit you not. We got in around 10, the airport lost Frances’s suitcase, and we didn’t get home till midnight. (she did get the suitcase by lunch the next day)

Saturday I woke up with the biggest mind fuck. I couldn’t tell you what day it was, what time it was, and my hands kept wanting to take pictures of things. You go from this…

Disney 12 Starfish pass out EVERY DAY. Not even being dramatic, I just needed to STOP moving each night. In the hotel and face down for 10 minutes to get up for 2 more hours, to get ready for bed, get baggies of clothes out, and write out what we did before I really passed out for 5 hours to start all over again.

Well come Saturday it was a DEAD stop for me. I couldn’t sleep in, I was still on some crack-like overdrive to get up and do, go, walk, see… but I was home. And so most of Saturday was seriously trying to understand that it was over. Disney was over. And I survived.


30. If you have the people to do it, we had my parents to sit with the kids. Try the roller coasters. They are NOT your average coaster. I mean I’ve ridden Great America, and Cedar Point rides, the BIGGEST, the SCARIEST… then I go to Disney. Animal Kingdom has Expedition Everest. Holy fuck. THAT. WAS. MESSED. UP. Dark, backwards, no joke. AND we did the Aerosmith ride in Hollywood Studios. THAT was fucking awesome too.

And that’s all I have for now. So I hope you got something out of this post. If not I at least emptied my brain out. I’m impressed I got to 30 tips… thought I’d get some dumb number… anyway.

I can’t wait to go back, it was since 1990 that I was last there with my parents and sister. 22 years later that place is even more magical then I remember. Hope to take the kids again when we can ride all the big roller coasters together, and not wait to get autographs from ALL the characters! (it was cool for them and to see their reaction, to them meeting the REAL characters)

Questions? Ask away. I’m sure I can help. If not Google it, search Disney’s site. Read the books, ASK people.

JCat McGack



Me and the famous “Hotel Mugs”


Maternal Mirth said...

I'm tired just reading this.

Jayme said...

Awesome post! Thanks so much for sharing all your tips.

I agree about the strollers.

I used to have a Disney Visa but don't anymore :-( Maybe I can try to get one again.

I'm not AAA either :-(

How were the buses going back and forth? What meals/shows did you guys like the best?

Jayme said...

I think that I'm going to steal your ideas of packing a suitcase of food (then it will be empty for souvenirs on the way back?) and the Ziploc bags for clothes for each day!! Awesome!

cmahoney23 said...

Thanks for the tips