Do you have a thing that goes with you every trip, every time? I do too! Besides the obvious ponchos, money or PINS, for me, it's always a few Ziploc bags. Here are 8 reasons why!
1. Phone / camera protector
If you like the water rides, or if you just want to keep your electronics safe during a down pour, you can't beat a Ziploc bag! Just be sure you zip it all the way!
2. Mini Med Kit
Toss together a few bandaids, and an advil or two. Chances are you're going to need those at some point, so why not make a mini med kit? No better place to store it than something see through!
There are a few places that have such generous portions, or maybe you just wanted a snack, and realized you were about to miss a Fast Pass. Toss your half sandwich or pretzel in a baggie, and finish it later! Or, if you have kids like mine, they are ravenous...until two bites later when they are full. Pop it in the bag!
If you've people who don't want to dip into the same bucket of popcorn as everyone else, put some in a baggie! Works great to keep kids from arguing, too, and divide up other multi serve snacks.
Keep a bag for traders...and a bag for keepers! It keeps them from rolling around loose in the backpack! No more lost pins!
6. Ice packs
We fill a quart sized bag in the mornings before we head out, and pop into our insulated backpack. Not only is it a great way to keep the drinks cold, the kids sometimes want to have an ice cube. Those ice cubes have done everything from iced a scrape, cooled a person, and even provided entertainment in line, "I'll bet my ice cube melts before yours!"
7. Emergency clothes
Have a little one? Store an emergency outfit in the baggie, then put the soiled one in. Zipped up, there's no smell, or mess oozing in the rest of your bag!
8. Cooling Towels
If you carry a cooling towel, chances are you don't want it all day, and you don't want it getting everything all damp. Put it in a baggie until next use!
See how useful these baggies are? While there are so many more ways to use plastic baggies, these are a few of our favorites! Do you have any other ways you use them?
It's the time of year when people are planning trips! I admit though, I always cringe at Disney Facebook Group posts that say something along these lines: "We just booked our first trip, tell me everything! Where to eat, what to do, everything."
Why do I cringe? It's not because someone is asking! Never! It's because I know that most likely the same person is going to be posting a short time later something similar to this: "We had a horrible trip. I hated the restaurants, we stood in line FOREVER, spent $9,000 and didn't even get to see Mickey. Worst trip ever, we are NEVER going back."
A previous post, about it isn't about luck, why some planning is important comes to mind each time. A Disney trip should rejuvenate you, awaken your sense of childhood and wonder, give you magical experiences, delicious food, and also very importantly, NOT bankrupt you! You do NOT need to spend $9,000 to have an amazing vacation. Even just a single day at Disney can be an unforgettable experience!
While it can be overwhelmin, and stressful to plan your Disney trip, a few hours of planning ahead of time, with the right tools, can make your trip effortless. You'll be cruising along enjoying everything the park has to offer and come back ready to plan your next trip, wiser for the experience, not writing it off forever!
Let's get to the basics. Here are a few helpful ideas to help make it easier to plan. Click anything underlined to go into a more detailed post!
1. Determine your budget
Figure out what you can spend. $1000? $3000? figure it out, and start saving. You might be surprised at how much money you can save. Remember, things like bringing your own drinks, or using this trick here to save a minimum of 5% off your trip price really adds up. You can also bring your own food, or even snacks, the same ones Disney sells, but way less, or maybe there's some ways you never knew you could save so much, but could! Some of these tricks are going to make that budget streeeeeetch pretty far, and make it seem bigger.
2. Buy a current guidebook and READ it
My favorite guidebook is the Unofficial Guide Series. Yes, they are so big it seems intimidating, but the book is written in bite sized pieces. Start at the beginning. read the whole first part, and then you'll start to have a general concept of how things are done, how to ride the Disney bus for example, or the busiest times of the year. After that, you'll find hotels, restaurants, rides, and helpful advice from people with the same questions you have!
3. Mark up that guidebook
If you know your toddlers aren't going to want to ride something, cross it out! If you know that someone in your group loves BBQ, and Flametree at Animal Kingdom is where they want to eat for lunch, mark it! Fill that book with your notes, dog ear it, whatever. After a year it's outdated, so mark it up, so it's easy to refer to later as you make your plan.
4. Ask people who have been what they like, but...
Keep in mind that asking just tells you what THEY like,and not everyone has the same experience. For example, your kids might want to just do rides. Don't feel like you'll ruin your trip if you skip all the Princess lines! Another example, a lot of Disney groups are all about the Table Service dining. That's great, but a first timer will be pretty happy with Quick Service eating places, and parents of tiny tots or teens who just want to go, go go, aren't going to want to stop for 2 hours a meal, 2-3 times a day, whereas something with a lot of dietary restrictions, or who has been to Disney a hundred times and seen it all, might prefer to take it slow, and be waited on at every meal. Ask, but then research yourself. Quick Service isn't just like fastfood. You can get ribs, half a chicken, even steaks at some places! Quick Service is just ordering at a counter, and walking the food to your table.
5. Make a plan
Using your notes, your circled things, and your feedback from other Park goers, start to make your plan. Use Youtube for ride-throughs, to see if you really will like something. Maybe pay, and make yourself a touring plan, or use some of our free ones! A plan , even the most basic of them, will put you ahead of at least 50% of the people there. Remember, it's not luck, to have the perfect Disney trip, it's planning!
6. Stick with your plan, but...
Don't get upset if you have to cross something off the list. Sometimes, your perfect vacation isn't perfect. People get hurt, or sick. (You can read about our experience in that link!) Do what you can, and do it with a positive attitude, and you will enjoy yourself! Sometimes you can't do it all, but you an always plan for next time!
7. Remember, you can't see or do it all
Disney FOMO is a thing. Remember...Disney is so huge, you just can't do it all in one trip! You can do a lot though, and take a ton of pictures, and best of all, get that first trip out of the way so that you can learn what did, or didn't work for you! Your second trip will be so much easier, you'll be an expert by then!
Hopefully some of these tips have helped you to not feel so overwhelmed! You like climbing a mountain, it starts with one step at time. Break your planning into little steps, and you'll be amazed at how well it all comes together!
Good luck! Have fun, and tell me all about it when you get back! I can't wait to hear how much fun you had!
You've prepped your house for a Disney vacation, you prepped your car for your Disney vacation, and now it's time to prep your phone for a Disney vacation!
There are some great app that are FREE and can REALLY make a huge difference in your Disney vacation! Here are a few:
These first few are made by Disney.
My Disney Experience does most everything from giving you menus, telling you where and when the characters meet, maps to help you navigate to the "Rapunzel", and more. While some people have complained that it drains their phone batteries, I personally have not had that issue.
Shop Disney Parks is an app to help you locate the elusive Oswald Ears, or whatever else it is you are looking for. You can even shop away from the parks,and have it shipped to you!
Play Disney Parks is the newest official Disney app! You'll find ways to enhance your wait time, and I don't want to spoil it, but it's so, so fun!
These next apps, aren't official Disney apps, but are incredibly useful.
Touring Plans even if you don't have a paid subscription, there are some great things you can take advantage of, like menus, and crowd levels. If you do have the subscription, you can see your touring plan, and incredibly accurate wait times.
Hidden Mickey's if you want to try and spot them all, this all is for you! A treasure trove of info, maybe you'll be able to find Mickey every place you look!
A weather app, with radar is super important to have, so that when it starts to rain, you can see if it's just a shower that's going to pass by, or something you need to get indoors for!
Those 6 apps on your phone, and you are set for any adventure at the park! I know we didn't mention all of the Disney apps, do you have a favorite we left off out list?
Last week, we talked about some of the best and worst deals at Disney, and since one of the things that we think are the worst deals are the ordinary, every day snacks, we thought we'd also suggest a way to save big, because who doesn't need a snack!
You don't have to give up the snacks you want, but you can save big, just by where you get them. I don't know about you guys, but I really think having the same things as everyone else, but spending a lot less, is pretty magical!
Here are a few examples.
Instead of buying that banana for a quick on the go breakfast while passing Harambe Market ($2.29) why not bring your own? A banana usually costs around a quarter at the grocery store!
Stopping by the resort food court to grab a Powerade to stick in your pack? It's $4.69, PLUS the time to stand in line. How about 89 cents at Walmart, toss it in your backpack and you've got a lot more flavors to choose from, plus you don't lose any time!
There are many snacks that you can pick up either locally, or if you drive down, can get on the way, to have the exact same snacks sold at Disney, but at more than 50% less! Our kids love individual bags of chips, because they don't get those too often. Instead of $2.99-3.99 for a bag, the nearby gas station, or any store will have that same bag for around $1.50.
A Dasani bottle of water to go with your chips is $3.50, or, $4.19 for a bottled Coke. Ouch! Even at a gas station you are going to be able to get twice the drinks for the Disney price.
Replace one Disney bought snack, per family of four, with a grocery or gas store alternative, and you'll have quite a bit of savings each day.
Use those savings on a fun in park treat you can't get elsewhere!! Doing Disney on a budget, doesn't mean sacrificing ANYTHING. It means enjoying the same things everyone else is enjoying...but paying less! Like I said... I don't know about you guys, but I think that's pretty magical!
Here are a few of the snacks you'll find for sale at Disney, in the parks or at our resort but that might not be the best use of your Disney dimes!
Bags of chips
Single serve packs of donuts (like, Hostess)
Single cup of yogurt
Browse the Disney menus, Disney pictures or even recall previous trips of what you saw, or bought, jot down the prices locally, and calculate the savings. It might be worth it to you to put a few consumables in your park bag!
One of our favorite things about Disney? The snacks! You probably have your own favorites there too, and you've seen a few of our copycat ones, but doesn't it stink when on your next visit, you don't see the same things you had last time and fell in love with? While some things are never changing, like the Dole Whips, or Mickey Pretzels, others are in a constant rotation, things like cupcakes, cones and prepackaged specialty baked goods.
If there's an allergy in your house, I'm sure you especially know how upsetting that can be. Your choices for treats are already limited, and when your choices shrink, it can make your trip to the Magic Kingdom not as magical.
Recently we experienced that when Disney switched up some of their offerings, in particular, the prepackaged cookie and brownie area. Where previously they had sold OMG Brand products, now, it's two different brands, and the brownie, which is definitely a good substitution dessert in the sea of cross contact forbidden cupcakes, was made in a facility with nuts. If you've got a nut allergy, do you REALLY want to take that chance and ruin your vacation? We don't.
So of course, we did what anyone would do. Food allergy people understand. We PANICKED. I won't lie, my heart was heavy and there were tears and I felt absolutely sick to my stomach. The very few treats that our 6 year old would actually want had now been cut in half, and when you are 6, and everyone else has something yummy, that's a Big Deal.
Thankfully, I discovered that you can still buy the OMG products, directly through their website! What's even more exciting, is buying them ahead of time is actually going to SAVE us money, over The Mouse's Markup. I was so excited about this, I decided to share with you guys, so that you can have a safe, or heck, just plain AMAZING Disney dessert, AND save money! They didn't ask me to write this, and might think I'm slightly crazy for how obsessed we are over these, but I want to make sure everyone knows!
Don't don't let the gluten free part scare you if you don't need to be gluten free. I admit, I wondered if they would have the "healthy" taste of Enjoy Life products, but O.M.G. I bit into one, and the heavens opened. A choir of angels sung, and for just a brief moment, through the heavy snow falling, the sun shone and everything was perfect. Then my kids gave the puppy dog eyes and sighing, I handed over the rest.
They say these are gluten free....I cannot tell at all. They are so incredibly fudge-y inside, flaky on the tops, moist, rich...I could go on and on. The perfect brownie has been made, and it is one most everyone can enjoy!
The brownies are shipped freshly made, sealed in pretty thick plastic, and are meant to be frozen, and thawed. Once thawed, they say to use within two weeks. I hope they last that long here. I have them in the freezer right now, so I can practice thawing before our summer trip. I'll be buying more, so that when the oldest buys Disney treats to bring home, the youngest can eat his heart out on these brownies. These are even going to replace the Wolfgang Puck brownies I bring back every time and free. I can even keep a stash for when SURPRISE! There is a birthday party I didn't hear about until the last minute, and didn't have time for make him his own cupcakes!
OMG has a lot of other products too, cookies, rolls, pizza dough, muffins...a big list! If the other things taste as good as these, you won't be disappointed. Another great thing? Their customer service! Before I even ordered, I sent several emails with questions, and was surprised at how fast I got answers! When does that EVER happen? I think it was even the owner herself who answered me each time! Huge!
Shipping was free, I don't know if it's that way on all orders, but it was only about 3 days from when I ordered, to when I got my brownies! So fast! They weren't broken or crumbly at all, like I worried about.
I'm excited to try these jazzed up too! Ice cream on top, or whipped cream and hot fudge, shaped like Mickey.... these stand alone, but a dash of Disney sprinkles, when I can manage to find them, will definitely be awesome!
Here's a peek what they look like kind, of hard to see through the wrapper. It's not safe for me to open any more, and I forgot to take pictures while it was out! (The three seconds it lasted!) And, here is the ingredients label, for you to check out, yourself. If you go into the Food Service tab, you can see all of their ingredients, for all their products. Isn't that so nice? I sure appreciate it.
I will say, you will see these on Amazon. Don't buy them there. WAAAAY overpriced. Buy directly. And tell everyone you know, because these things are so amazing, it's a disservice NOT to share the word, and help get them into stores everywhere! Happy eating! And if you stop by my house? Umm. Sorry. All out. Can't share. Nope. Move along. Nothing to see here...