Focused on the Magic had a great topic this week! Disney Tee's! I Always, ALWAYS make sure to have a themed tee for whatever park I'm visiting, my kids too! Animal Kingdom is usually Lion King, Hollywood Studios Star Wars or Marvel. Epcot I wasn't too sure what to do, so I went with this french stripy thing, and Magic Kingdom? That's Alice, or Pooh, or Minnie and Mickey! You can NEVER go wrong with Mickey and Minnie!
Over the summer I discovered some cheap cheap Disney tees on facebook groups, and bought myself a few. One, was a 15th anniversary Animal Kingdom one, brand new with the tags for $10. It's my new favorite and I can't wait to wear it next time we go there. Another was a fabulous Cinderella print, but it arrived the size of a house and waaay too big. I am NOT joking. After much reflecting I think it was a night shirt, not a regular shirt. After many tears, and much disappointment I got onto Pinterest and saw all the no sew ways (since I can't sew worth beans) and found a way to cut the excess, and knot it up, kind of like those no sew fleece blankets, but the fringe is on the inside. All summer and now fall, it's sat, looking at me accusingly from a pile of laundry on the floor, ready for my to tackle the DIY, but I'm a little nervous. I'll get to it one of these days though! I love the possibility of the shirt, just scared to do the actual attempt!
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New year, new Disney Dining Plan!! There have been a few changes, and it’s up to YOU to decide if the Disney Dining Plan is still the best for your family or not.
The price has gone up compared to in 2017, however there has been an addition that might make it more appealing for you. Keep reading!
Disney Dining Plans can be a little bit confusing if you've never used one before. If used wisely, the Dining Plans are a fantastic way to save a little or a lot on your trip, depending on what you eat or how much you drink, letting you add even more magic to your vacation!
Here's a basic overview about the Disney Dining Plan for 2018 to help you decide if the plan is right for you.
Disney World offers three dining plans for guests staying on property. The Quick Service Dining Plan, the Dining Plan, and the Deluxe Dining Plan. Each plan comes with a refillable souvenir mug that can be used at any resort during the length of your stay. Each restaurant will have a different theme, so it's often fun to try a new place each time.
The Quick Service Dining Plan is our favorite right now since we have small kids who don't want to sit still at a sit down restaurant for very long. This plan includes 2 meals per day, consisting of an entree and it's included side(s) (think half chicken, green beans and mashed potatoes, or sandwich and fries) and new to 2018, those under the age of 21 can choose to have soda, tea or coffee, a milkshake, smoothie or other specialty non alcoholic beverage. Those over the age of 21 with valid ID can choose to have a beer, cider, mixed drink or wine if available. This plan also includes 2 snack credits which can be used on a variety of things from soups or salads, drinks, desserts or packaged snacks. My favorite thing to use a snack credit on are the themed cupcakes. Gigantic works of art and delicious! We have never felt like we've sacrificed food choices with this plan. Quick Service doesn't mean you are stuck with just burgers and fries. There are yummy salads, seafood, fajitas, and so much more. Mr. Disney Magic loves going to Animal Kingdom and having lunch at Flame Tree BBQ so he can order the Ribs, chicken and pulled pork plate that includes baked beans, coleslaw and jalapeno cornbread. With Quick Service meals, no gratuities are charged and you do not need reservations.
The Dining Plan is the standard meal plan with Disney World and it includes 1 Quick Service meal, 1 Table Service meal and 2 snacks. You get everything as above with the Quick Service plan, but the Table Service meal can be a buffet or a sit down restaurant, and includes a dessert. This is a popular plan because it's the best of both worlds. You can have a quick lunch if you want and a leisurely dinner to unwind after a day at the Parks. There are a few Table Service restaurants that even offer special seating for nighttime shows, or Character Meals including breakfasts, however some of those might require the use of two meal credits. Gratuity will be added on additionally for Table Service restaurants just like if you went to a sit down restaurant at home. Reservations are usually required, and may be reserved up to 180 days before your trip.
The Deluxe Dining Plan is the most expensive plan because you get a lot more. This plan includes 3 meals, your choice of Quick Service or Table Service. If you choose the Table Service, in addition to the above entitlements, you also get to choose an appetizer. Gratuity will be added on additionally for Table Service restaurants just like if you went to a sit down restaurant at home. Reservations are usually required, and may be reserved up to 180 days before your trip.
The prices for the 2018 Disney Dining Plans are as follows:
Quick Service - Per night Ages 10 and up $52.50 Ages 9 and under $21.74
Dining Plan – Per night Ages 10 and up $75.49 Ages 9 and under $25.75
Deluxe Dining Plan – Per night Ages 10 and up $116.25 Ages 9 and under $39.99
There are some legitimate reasons as to why, or why not this plan might be good for you. If you love the idea of having all meals paid for in advance and if you like to have Table Service meals and don't mind planning in advance this plan may be perfect for you. If you just like to snack in the park, or want to bring in part of your own food and just eat one meal in the park, you might not get as much benefit from this.
An incredibly easy way to see if you will come out ahead or not if you buy this plan is to use this fabulous dining plan calculator. DisTripPlanner.com has put a lot of work into making your decision as easy as can be. Just make sure that you do add in the refillable mug in step 2, in order to get the most accurate result. Just click here to see the calculator.
A few things to remember.
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Without a doubt, Christmas at the Magic Kingdom is magical. There are special decorations, special costumes and characters, music that you wouldn’t ordinary hear, special fireworks and parades and lots of yummy only that time of year treats!
The thing is though, it’s not just your family wanting to spend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day at the park. Alot of other families are wanting to do that too. A lot of groups of friends, or even just the single guy or gal who wants to absorb the atmosphere is going to be there.
Disney doesn’t say exactly how many guests can go into each park, but there are estimates from various sources. On an average peak day at Magic Kingdom, where the crowds will be in the 50,000’s, on Christmas day, that number is going to be more than doubled. Long before it gets to those numbers, phased closure begins.
We’ve talked a little more about that in a previous post, you can click here to read it.
A lot of the same things apply for holiday’s in general at Disney, but if you are planning to go Christmas Day, or New Years Eve, you’ve got to be extra prepared, or you might get turned away and those magical memories you were hoping to make? They won’t be of the happy kind.
On Christmas Day, it’s almost better to just relax, walk around and enjoy the atmosphere because all of the lines for everything from bathrooms, to restaurants to rides are going to be much, much longer than usual. Hopefully you’ve either been to Magic Kingdom before, or you’ve got a few more days planned to explore it.
If you have never been to Magic Kingdom and plan to go for the first time in December, keep reading!
While I would NEVER suggest someone NOT go to Magic Kingdom, I would like to point out that both Epcot and Animal Kingdom are much bigger parks. You can still have a really large number of guests in the park, but it’s not going to feel nearly so crowded. Hollywood Studios isn’t the largest of the parks, but it also might be a good alternative during Christmas through New Years so that you can experience a few more rides than you might at Magic Kingdom.
So what if you’ve got your heart set on Magic Kingdom on Christmas Day? (Or any of the days nearby). Well, you’ve got to have a plan. We talk about that a lot here, and holiday’s are no exception! Grab your notebook, and let’s get busy!
Because holidays, New Years, Thanksgiving and Christmas especially, are such popular times to visit, Magic Kingdom can reach capacity. What does this mean? A holiday at capacity happens in stages, so knowing those stages can make sure YOU get inside. Disney can change the way they do things at any time, but this is generally how it happens when it starts getting closer to capacity. Usually you’ll only need to worry about this a few days before, and after Christmas.
Guests with one day, single park tickets or those using cast member passes will not be allowed to park, they will be turned away at the toll plazas.
Any guest staying at a Disney Resort, even if they drive themselves, is allowed in. Also, anyone with a multi day ticket, or park hopper tickets, annual passholders, someone hopping in from another park, anyone arriving by Disney transportation or anyone with an existing in park reservation.
When the second stage occurs, the only ones allowed into the parking lots, or through the ticket turnstiles are:
Those staying at a Disney resort, annual passholders, those re-entering the park from earlier that day, those hopping from another park, those with in park reservations or those coming by Disney transportation.
Once it reaches the third stage (which isn’t too often, the second stage it the most common) the only ones allowed into the turnstiles, or the parking lot are:
Those staying at a Disney Resort, annual passholders, those with in park reservations.
The fourth stage, the park is entirely shut down, to all visitors. This has only happened once though, so it’s unlikely you will need to worry about it.
If you are visiting during a holiday, and NOT staying on property, you need to arrive at least an hour and a half early in order to make sure you get into the park. Remember, with the new opening procedure for the park, the hub is open an hour, sometimes earlier, than actual park opening. Once that is filled, and it will fill on a holiday, people will be stuck between the gates and the turnstiles, backing up to to the arrival areas and it will take much much longer to get inside of the park and get where you want to go. Holidays are NOT a time to get there late.
There will be crowds, but like any Disney crowd, common sense will see you through. If you’ve small children, keep them in the stroller or tightly hold their hands so they don’t get lost, or knocked over. It only takes the blink of an eye for your group to be separated when another group pushes past you, so something like matching hats or shirts can go a long way towards spotting each others.
First-timers- you will NOT be able to hear your cell phone ringing, and the person you are trying to call will not be able to hear theirs! Even on a regular park day, it’s just too loud in the park to hear it, so plan to take frequent breaks to look to see if you’ve missed a call or text from another in your group.
If there was a sit down place you wanted to eat, or if your little princess wanted a makeover, I hope you’ve already got reservations. You can start booking your preferred restaurant 6 months in advance. Didn’t do that yet? It’s okay, and you might still be able to get a reservation, but the sooner you start checking, the better. As time draws closer to your trip, if you haven't been able to score a table, don’t give up. Things happen sometimes with the others who hold those reservations, and it’s not unlikely, or impossible to get the restaurant you’ve been longing for, a few days before your trip. The trick is to keep trying, and not stop. Check the odd times too. It doesn’t matter if it’s quick service or not, tables are filled more from 11:30am-1pm.
This really goes along with the crowds, but you know there will already be some longer crowds. While it’s a little harder to beat the crowds on a holiday, it’s not impossible to minimize your wait time if you have a plan. If you don’t know what you want to do, where you want to go and where you want to eat, the lines are going to get longer and longer and you are going to start feeling frustrated. Disney is such a great place to visit, don’t let your magical trip be ruined by something so small like an hour per park that you’ve made at least a general outline of what order you are going to do things.
Take advantage of the great service Disney offers that’s totally free! Have the shop send your purchases to the front of the park for pickup on your way out, or even better, back to your resort! Keep in mind though, if you are sending back to your resort, don’t send anything back in the last 24 hours of your trip because it might not get to you in time.
Holidays at Disney have some extra special photo opportunities, so be sure to take advantage! You’ll find Mickey and his friends in seasonal costumes, as well as characters you might not get to see during the rest of the year. There will be special parades, music, shows and of course, lot sof special treats to sample that you can only get during these special occasions.
Disney also offers special seasonal events, such as the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. These have special things like trick or treating, or cookie and cocoa stations throughout the park as well as other fun surprises.
Keep in mind that if you are visiting the park on a day where one of these parties is held, the park does close early to those who do not have tickets for these events. Tickets can sell out quickly, so it’s best to get yours the moment you know you will be there during a holiday. It is very unlikely that you will be able to buy a ticket the day of the event.
Patience, patience, patience
While this is a top tip, other than planning, for any Disney vacation, it’s needed more than ever during a Disney holiday. Have patience. Patience with the family who just cut in front of you, patience with that REALLY annoying family remember who keeps slowing you down, patience with your kid who had to stop for the 11th bathroom/pretzel/pin trading moment in the last hour and a half. Don’t forget to have patience with yourself, too. You might not get to do everything you want. That’s okay. Enjoy what you can!
Remember, a little prep, a little planning will go a long way towards making the most out of your vacation. It can be a little overwhelming to plan a Disney trip, but it’s far worse to be standing there in a panic as the lines get longer and longer and you’ve no idea what anyone wants to ride! Like the old adage, an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.
Stay sane, and have fun during your Disney holiday! I wish I were there with you!
A few weeks ago, I got to hear part of a talk by Phap Huu, a very wise, though very young Vietnamese monk. He was talking about FOMO, and after his talk since I realized I'd been seeing that several places lately, I googled it and realized that FOMO is bigger than I realized.
FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out. We all experience that and are exposed to it in just about every aspect of our lives but it struck me how easily FOMO can be felt when planning a Disney trip, especially if you don't get to go to those Magical Lands often.
Everything is so expensive, there's so much to see, so much to do, and you don't want to waste a moment, a dollar or anything at all at Disney, you just want to absorb it all, and not feel like you didn't get your money's worth. By golly, if it's possible you are going to cram a month's worth into a week. If there's a normal person that goes there, or is planning to go there and doesn't feel that way, I would be surprised. Unfortunately, that leads to expectations being a little higher than what the reality is.
Sometimes your perfect vacation isn't perfect, but sometimes we just plain expect too much.
Planning a vacation is hard. The traveling isn't always much easier, no matter how you get there, then you arrive tired, but wanting to see and do it all. Totally normal. Where it starts to get stressful is when we try and do more than we can, because we are afraid that we can't do it all. We've got that FOMO mentality.
I'm a planner by nature, but even I usually try and cram more into a day than I should. Ever make a to do list around the house? There's a ton of stuff you want to or need to do, but as the day wears on, and most of it's not crossed off, you feel a little more discouraged, than energized by all you've achieved.
Along the way, and throughout the planning of our trips I've learned a few things that makes each trip go smoother than the last. Maybe a few of these tips will help you next time FOMO rears it's ugly head.
Set realistic expectations on trips
This last trip was going to be our first time ever at EPCOT. Three months out I had every minute from 730 am at the bus stop until 9 pm planned. Even then, I had to rework my plan over and over because there wasn't enough time in the day to do everything I knew we were going to want to do, afterall, every blog I read, in every forum, people were talking about EPCOT being a 2 day park, and it all HAD to be done. I was determined we weren’t going to miss a THING. But then... our perfect vacation wans't so perfect, and quickly things had to start getting crossed off the plan.
Instead of exploring each of the pavilions at the World Showcase, shopping along the way for snacks and meals, once we got there with a bored preschooler in tow and a badly limping Mr. Disney, my perfectly arranged plan on both paper, and digital copy looked like too much. What did we do? We focused on the things that were most important, and ended up leaving around 4pm, having gotten to see almost everything we wanted, and already talking about what we would do, or do differently, on our next trip in a few years.
I realized that even though we didn't do it all, we did enough. Next time we go, we will be more prepared, but in my planning stages, I'm going to know next time that stopping at each Kidcot station isn't really practical, or even desired (by the adults, and said preschooler) and that really, just hitting the amazing shops in China and Japan are going to be enough to satisfy my oldest and I for shopping in the World Showcase. Your kids might be experts at staying out all day without the crankies, my kids don't have that gene, so be sure not to expect too much from them, or even the adults. Be reasonable with what you think everyone can do. It's better to have a good trip, than to do it all and be miserable.
Stop being envious of others
Next time you are ages away from another trip, and someone mentions how they are getting ready to go, don't be jealous. Don't be mopy, don't be sad or irritated or say things to try and ruin their fun. Find your enthusiasm, be excited, and do your part to help make their trip more exciting, and more fun. Sour attitudes really come from a place of envy, and a Fear Of Missing Out but if you are truly friends or love the person going...shouldn't you be happy for them?
The same applies while you are on vacation, when the family in front of you for Dole Whip Floats are turning up their nose at the “poor people” who packed their lunches, or the ones “eating slop” at the Quick Service restaurants. Sure, they might be dining on steak that night, but who cares? Everyone makes their own choices. Maybe you'd rather bring some food in from the parks and have a little extra money for something else, or maybe you know your kids just aren't going to sit still long enough to make a table service meal relaxing for anyone. Maybe you just love the atmosphere and food of the better restaurants Disney has to offer and save up extra hard for it. Who knows! People act a lot differently on vacation sometimes, and usually they forget to pack their manners.
We can't see who saved up and sacrificed in other areas to afford those character meals, or who's putting it all on plastic and hoping the bills don't pile up too much. It could be someone is only there for one day and wants to do it all! Or it could be they get to go often, and sacrifice in other areas. We never know someone elses circumstances, so while it's so easy to feel envious, and have a Fear Of Missing Out, but don't! Don't spoil your good time by letting negativity creep in!
It should be a crime how easy it is to shop online. How very temping it is to browse online stores or groups to try and capture some of those memories and happy feelings of a vacation you just came home from. It's also very easy to pull out the credit card but that's just going to cause more problems for you. Instead of feeling that FOMO feeling, spend intentionally, and save with focus so that you can get yourself back to your Dream Destination all the sooner.
In this age where Facebook, Pintrest, Instagram and all the others are only a click away, it's so easy to see the picture perfect lifestyle that others are living. But are they? So much is staged, it's posed, it's made as perfect as can be before it's posted, and it's just not genuine. Where is the joy in that? Could you really be comfortable in that world? Not me! If you can remember that, and enjoy the things that are real, silly candid photos, cooking mistakes, waaay past bedtime kids giggling, your awesome red sectional sofa peeling like it's got a bad sunburn, then you might just realize that your life is pretty awesome with ton's of it's own things going on, and there's just no reason at all to worry about someone else, or the FOMO.
What do you think?
There are a LOT of opinions on the right stroller for Disney. For myself, the stroller has to be able to do this, to pass my Disney approved test!
Be easy to maneuver
Be easy to clean
Hold the right size kid
Be easy to fold
Be easy to park
Stand out or look cute
Don’t look too cute or stand out too much
Let’s break it down!
Be easy to maneuver
My husband no longer pushes the stroller at Disney. He has a hard time getting it through the crowds, because with a stroller, people WILL cut you off, coming from the sides. Heck, I’ve been run into before by those jumbo strollers from behind. Doesn’t feel good. I don’t mind pushing though, it’s all about the push, I tell him. You’ve got to get that look in your eye that says I WILL run you over if you don’t get out of my way, and the crowd parts. Seriously. Try it, but don't REALLY run anyone over.
If you are going to take a stroller, make sure it’s one that pushes well. If you have to muscle your way to make a tight turn around a toddler that stops suddenly in front of you, you need to turn quick. Same if you need to stop.
This is the one we use, it’s been WONDERFUL for 4 years of hard use, and I swear, still looks new. Our oldest sat in it at age 7, and it still worked.
A note for those of you with the double stroller. Side by side is a lot harder to find a parking spot, or a wide enough path through a shop or walkway than the kind where the kids are in a row. It’s not impossible, nothing is at Disney, but you might have to go slower, say excuse me more, and have a little more patience.
Be easy to clean
Fact of life. Spills happen. Your spills, your kid spills, the stranger’s kid next to you… it’s going to happen. If you’ve got a stroller that isn’t filled with nooks and crannies to get every melted Mickey ice cream bar bit out of, that’s awesome. If you’ve got an older stroller or are of the personality that you don’t care if there’s a stain or two, even better. Maybe that’s why I’m not in the luxury stroller, because spills are going to happen, and I’d rather not worry about it. A swipe with a napkin or wipe and we keep going.
Cupholders? A must! Storage area? Got to have it! Pouch for sunscreen and trading pins? Check! Reclining seat? Sooo important!
Don’t have too minimal of a stroller unless you don’t plan to have it hold anything but your kid. It’s great to have a cupholder for drinks, and a carge area for the purchases you make or any of those things you started the day holding, and are now too tired to carry.
Hold the right size kid
Depending on your little one, you need the right sized stroller. The bigger the kid, the more important that you stroller push without feet getting in the way, to little tush’s weighting down the wheels do you can't push. Check beforehand to make sure no one’s outgrown the stroller!
Be easy to park
While there’s loads of stroller parking, there are often loads of strollers. A few times we were turned away from stroller parks until they saw how small our stroller was, and squished a few together, or had us fold ours up and hang it on a rail. Part of being easy to park is making sure you aren't so overloaded with stuff it can’t be moved. There are stroller parking attendants who will be shuffling the strollers around while you are off enjoying the rides. Don’t panic when you get back and don’t see your stroller. It’s going to be in the parking area, just maybe in a different spot.
Be easy to fold
Folding is really important if you plan to use your stroller on any of the Disney transportation. You’ll have to have it folded to ride. Depending on the size of your stroller it will either make it easier, or more difficult.
It’s also great to have a stroller that folds, because some stroller parks areas, like at the stroller parking for Fantasmic! have a large fence they prefer the strollers be hung on.
You can go here to read about tips for having a stroller on a Disney bus.
Stand out or look cute
You know how when you’re driving around town you see several cars that alook like yours? Or how annoying it is at the grocery store parking lot when there are 3 cars just like yours in the same row? It’s going to be the same with strollers. To prevent grabbing to wrong one, or someone else getting yours by mistake, jazz it up a little!
First step, make a sign to hang from the handles, and laminate it! Put a cute Disney photo, your phone number and a big THIS STROLLER BELONGS TO etc. I’ve seen balloons, stuffed animals, silly bands and all kinds of things. Make it stand out a little!
Don’t look too cute or stand out too much
Why? didn’t I just say to make it stand out and look cute?
I’ll explain. It’s so easy to get into the mindset that you are in a safe place (and really, Disney is VERY safe. Most of the crime against Disney tourists are Off Property) but make no mistake. Where there’s something someone wants, they are going to take it. Stroller thefts are rare, but they do happen at Disney, especially when it’s a high end stroller. There was one last year where a woman and her kid walked out with a VERY expensive stroller, and it contained the real owners keys, wallet, credit cards and cash. The stroller was then almost sold on craigslist, but the potential buyer got suspicious and called the police.
Is that right? Absolutely not! Should the person be criticized for taking a high end stroller to Disney? Of course not! But my thoughts are, if you have a few options for strollers… make it based on the criteria above. If that high end stroller is the only one you want to take, ok. But why risk it when one for less than $50 will do the trick?
Want more ideas on planning your trip?
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