Only 90 more days until we're hanging out at the happiest place on Earth again! I am so excited for our next trip to Walt Disney World because obviously it will be Kai's first time but also because we've never been in the spring. We tend to always go for our anniversary which is in September. While I absolutely love going in the fall for all the Halloween decorations, I'm really excited to go in the spring for Epcot's Flower and Garden festival! I get asked all the time when's the best time of the year to go to Disney and my answer is always the complicated, "well it depends..." answer. But here's why; Disney has so much to offer than just the rides at the parks. There are a lot of extra things that you can do and some of them are seasonal! So when I answer "it depends" it really does depend on what you're in to. Do you want to go when all the pretty flowers are in bloom? Do you want to go to celebrate Halloween? or Christmas? Well today I am going to tell you about a bunch of Disney extras that you can take advantage of and when!
This special festival is always at the beginning of the year. It is actually pretty new with it being only the 3rd year for it. In 2019 it is taking place from Jan 18-Feb 25th. This festival is all about...you guessed it...the arts! There are special visual art exhibits and culinary exhibits all set up around the World Showcase to celebrate each country. You can even join special workshops to create your own Disney inspired art! No special ticket is required except a park ticket to get in to Epcot.
This is Epcot's spring festival! This year is it taking place Mar 6th-Jun 3rd. Epcot is decorated with an incredible amount of flowers and topiaries in the shape Disney characters! They also have a special food menu for all the pavilions around the World Showcase. No special ticket is required except a park ticket to get in to Epcot.
So Dapper Day technically isn't a Walt Disney World sponsored event, but it's still a very special one that is put together by Disney lovers! You know the lovely greeters when you first walk in to Magic Kingdom that are all dressed up and sing to you? They are called the Dapper Dans! There are two whole weekends, one in the spring and one in the fall, where everyone gets dressed all dapper like them to celebrate old school Disney! The spring one is being held on April 27th + 28th and the fall one has not been announced yet. This past year though it was held on November 17th + 18th, so you can expect it to be around then again next fall. There are no special tickets required to celebrate Dapper Day, you just get dressed up and enjoy the special events all around WDW resort!
This is Epcot's fall festival and the one we love oh so dearly! The 2019 dates have not been announced yet but you can expect it to go from late August till mid-November. It is Epcot's longest and biggest festival. It features over 30 different countries around the World Showcase all having their own special tasting carts for you to try food and drinks from all over the world. There are concerts in the American pavilion almost every night, too! No special ticket is required except a park ticket to get in to Epcot. You can use your snack credits on your dining plan for some of the taste portions, as well. If you do not have a dining plan you can expect to pay around $150 a person if each person were to get a food and drink item from every country.
Mickey's Halloween party is held in Magic Kingdom every fall. The first one usually takes place in late August and the last one held is on Halloween. You can go trick or treating down Main Street, enjoy a special parade and fireworks show, and lots of extra treats all over the park. There are so many more meet and greet characters available during the party and the best part is that you can dress up in your Halloween costume! Disney does not allow visitors to dress up while in the parks except during the Halloween party. This is a special ticketed event costing $75 per adult and $70 per child.
This is Epcot's holiday season festival. The park is of course decorated for the holiday season and the World Showcase features decorations to celebrate the holidays from all over the world. A seasonal holiday menu is available at the different countries for visitors to try cultural holiday favorites. No special ticket is required for the festival except a park ticket to get in to Epcot.
This is another special Mickey party that is held in Magic Kingdom! Christmas decorations go up all the week after Halloween and then the Christmas party promptly starts! This year this special event is going from November 8th to December 21st. This party features a special parade with Mickey and Santa, Elsa does some magic on Cinderella's Castle, and there are lots of extra special holiday treats! This is a special ticketed event costing $99 per adult and $94 per child.
This special event allows visitors to experience the parks after every one else for 3 additional hours! You can go on lots of attractions with little to no wait. You need to call to get tickets for this event as the dates are not advertised online. The number is 407-939-7795 and tickets cost $125 per person.
What is your favorite Disney special event? Or if you've never been, which one do you want to go to the most? Let me know in the comments!
Walt Disney World is probably our favorite place in the world. We've gone the last two years to celebrate our anniversary and have learned a few tricks along the way to make our vacations there so special. One of the ways that made our trip last year 100x better than the year before was thanks to staying at a WDW resort. Staying on property has so many perks to it, it's insane. We didn't know any of this when we planned our first trip, but man do I wish we did know! So I'm here today to share with you all the extras you get if you decide to stay at a WDW resort.
Disney Magical Express
If you book your trip through Disney and stay at a resort on property, you will have the option to take the free shuttle bus from the airport to Walt Disney World. Disney makes all of it so easy for you! They send you luggage tags in the mail, you put them on your bags prior to checking them in at your departing airport, and Disney gets your bags for you at Orlando International Airport. You just get off the plane and make your way to the Disney Magical Express area of the airport and get on the bus. You get to watch some Disney videos and sit back and relax after your flight. The bus brings you right to your hotel where they also drop your bags off for you in your room whenever it's ready! Then at the end of your trip, same thing. You check your bags at your resort and get on the bus at your designated time to go back to the airport. Disney checks your bags in for you at the airport and you pick them up when you arrive at your final destination.
You get your Magicbands for free if you stay at a Disney resort! The Magicbands act as your room key, ticket in to parks, your way to buy food from your dining plan, and your credit card to buy goodies all over WDW.
Book Your FastPasses 60 Days in Advance
When you stay on property, you can book your 3 daily Fastpasses 60 days in advanced compared to 30 days if you're not staying on property. This is a huge advantage if you are planning on going on rides like Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom, Frozen Ever After at Epcot, and Peter Pan's Flight at Magic Kingdom. You probably won't get a Fastpass for these rides if you don't book them 60 days in advance and will end up waiting in a 2+ hour line to ride them!
The Disney dining plans are about the best thing ever. There are 3 different levels - quick service, dining, and deluxe dining. You have to stay at a resort to take advantage of having a dining plan and I promise it makes your trip 1000x better. All your food is paid for ahead of time (even snacks!) so all you have to do is scan your magicband wherever you're eating and depending on the kind of restaurant or food stand you're at, it gets deducted from your plan. But like I said, you have to stay at a resort to get this perk!
Free Mini Golf
Disney will send you a couple rounds of free mini golf for your whole group when you book a room at a resort! You can go to any of the golf ranges on property that has mini golf and play for free before 4pm! This is one of the great ways to take a small break from the parks.
Extra Magic Hours
Resort guests get to spend extra time in the parks! It's a different park every day and sometimes its prior to the park's official opening time or after its closing time. You can go on all the rides in the park and some food places will be open during the extra magic hours, too.
If you chose to drive to Disney or rent a car for your trip, you get to park for free at all the parks. You can come and go as you please and park hop and not have to pay a bunch of money to park at each park!
So as you can see, there are a lot of reasons why staying at a WDW resort is so worth it, but most of all each one is so unique and fun. There is a price point for every one and when you book a complete vacation package with Disney it truly is just that, a complete vacation. From the time you check your bags at the airport to the time you arrive home, Disney takes care of you.
What is your favorite Disney resort!? Mine is definitely the Polynesian...I love that I can get dole whips all day every day when we stay there!
Woo sorry I've been a little MIA this week friends, we had a quite the week. We had a minor health scare with Wrigley and I'm not going to lie, I've been kind of a mess. He started acting very strange yesterday morning, so we quickly made an appointment with our vet. Thankfully after a thorough exam, it's been narrowed down to some kind of sprained muscle in his abdomen or back. He's on pain meds and already seems to be better. It was a very scary experience though because he's always been a very healthy pup. Please keep him in your prayers and send him some good vibes to heal up quickly!
On to happier things though...like trips to Disney! I know from experience that all the things Walt Disney World has to offer can be overwhelming sometimes. They try to make your life easier by having all these perks but sometimes it is just too much if you've never been before or taken advantage of them. Well, I promise you, all the things that WDW offers to vacation goers really does make your life so much easier and ensures you will have the best time ever! There's a lot that goes in to an amazing Disney vacation but today I'm going to break down the travel logistics of getting to Walt Disney World by plane and how to get around WDW.
Disney Magical Express
If you're flying in to Orlando, take advantage of the Disney Magical Express. It is a bus shuttle service that takes you from MCO airport to your WDW resort. The best part about it though is, it's free! No other shuttle/transportation service in the Orlando area is free to other hotels, so for us this is a huge perk and a way to save some cash. This also eliminates needing to rent a car. Sometimes a car is worth it if you want to go explore other parts of Central Florida, but if you are strictly doing Disney, then the Magical Express is the way to go. An added perk for us now is not needing to bring a car seat for Kai, too, since we would just be on the bus with him! The bus picks you up right at the bus depot at the airport and drops you off at your hotel. They also grab all your checked luggage for you from baggage claim, too! So you can get off the plane and go straight to the bus, not having to worry about waiting for your bags. When you book your Disney vacation and if you select using the Magical Express, Disney will mail you luggage tags to put on your bags so that the service knows to grab those bags at baggage claim. Disney will then deliver your bags to your room at your hotel. It's a very similar process for going home, too. You check your bags in at your resort when you're checking out of your room and Disney will bring them to the airport and check them in for you with your airline. You catch the bus at your resort at your designated time that Disney will give you via a slip of paper with your check out information for your room. It's usually around 3 to 4 hours prior to your departure time. The bus drops you off at the airport and you're on your way home. For any additional carry on items you want for your plane ride home, you can just leave them at the concierge desk and get them before you leave for the airport on the bus.
The only downside to this is you will need to pack anything you need for your first day at the parks in your carry on bag. I don't like to wear shorts on airplanes because I get cold, so I pack my outfit for the day and anything else I need for the parks in my backpack that I plan on using at the parks. I use that as my carry on with any additional items I want for the plane. When we get to our resort, I either empty those plane extras out in to our room or leave them at the concierge desk to get later if our room isn't ready yet and get them after we get back from the parks. I personally feel like this is a very minor downside to all the convenience Disney is giving you otherwise.
Disney Ground Transportation
I'm just going to come right out and say this, please don't drive from park to park. You'll waste so much time getting to your car in the parking lots and driving around the resort to another park. The best way to hop from park to park and back to your hotel is by using Disney's bus system. You can catch a bus to all 4 parks, both water parks, and Disney Springs from every resort and every park. So if you start at your resort and you want to go to Magic Kingdom, just go to your bus depot and catch the MK bus. Then if you want to hop over to Animal Kingdom, you can catch a bus to AK at the MK bus depot. Then to get back to your resort you would just simply catch a bus back to your resort from the AK bus depot. Pretty simple right? The buses start picking up for the parks about an hour before they open and run for about an hour after the parks close. Buses to Disney Springs start at 4pm and run till about 3am. The only thing to keep in mind is you can't get buses that go from resort to resort. So if you have a dining reservation at a different resort than the one you are staying at, then you will need to take a bus to a park and then catch another bus to the resort you are dining at or want to visit. I'm not going to sugar coat it, the buses can sometimes take awhile. Plan on about 45 minutes to an hour one way for waiting for the buses to come and driving to wherever you're trying to get to. It is still better than driving around in a car though!
The easiest way to get around Disney though is by using the Monorail. The Monorail stops at 3 resorts, the Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian and goes to Magic Kingdom and Epcot. It is fast and fun. It goes around the lake and has some amazing views while you ride it. This is the best way to get to those 3 resorts from MK and Epcot, which I highly recommend checking them out because they have some of the best restaurants, spas, and things to do outside of the parks. The Monorail will also take you to the MK and Epcot parking lots. There is also the option to take the ferry across the lake, but from experience, the Monorail is much faster.
If you must drive, here is all you need to know about parking. Disney has recently decided to start charging guests for overnight parking. For budget hotels it is $13 per night, moderate hotels it is $19 per night, and deluxe hotels it is $24 per night. It is still free to park at the parks during the day for resort guests. Standard parking for non-resort park goers is $22 per day and $45 for preferred parking. Parking at Disney Springs and ESPN Wide World of Sports is free all day.
That about covers all your transpo options for a vacation at Walt Disney World! When is your next trip to Disney? I'd love to hear about it, so leave me a comment below!
Hey there, friends! I hope you've been having a wonderful week. We've just been cuddled up at home, as usual! We had a nice quiet week though, just the 4 of us for the most part. We've gotten in lots of snuggles and are slowly catching up on sleep. Tuesday was extra nice because Kai and I took the "day off" and just snuggled all day long. We made what we call a couch fort where we push our couches together in our living room and we had a Harry Potter marathon. We munched on cookies and took a bunch of naps while we listened to the rain fall outside. It was the coziest most perfect day!
Caleb and I have started dreaming about our next trip to Walt Disney World and we've started thinking we are going to make it happen next spring for my birthday so we can go to the Flower and Garden Festival! Just the thought though inspired me to think up a fun Disney post for all of you! One of the things that many Disney goers have on their Disney bucket list is eating and drinking around the World Showcase at Epcot. If you've never done it before it might sound confusing and overwhelming or if you're not aware of this awesome Disney tradition let me fill you in! Epcot's World Showcase has 11 different pavilions that represent different countries all around the world. Each pavilion has different food and drinks that you can try. So a lot of Disney goers will make it a goal to go all the way around to each of the pavilions and try a food and drink item from each country! You will roughly spend around $150 per person if each person decides to get food and drinks at every pavilion. Personally, Caleb and I like to share because it's so much food! Here is our guide for helping you choose the best eats and drinks while you're there during a non-festival time. We personally like to go counterclockwise around the lake. (During Festival of the Arts, Flower and Garden, and Food and Wine there are special menus with additional countries you can visit...which I will go over in different posts in the future).
Food - Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup, Signature Poutine
Drink - Labatt Blue
Rose & Crown Pub
Food - Fish and chips
Drinks - Pimm's Cup, Guinness
Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie
Food - Macarons, Pain au chocolat
Drink - Champagne
Crepes de Chefs de France
Food - Chocolate crêpe
Drink - Café espresso
Spice Road Table
Food - Hummus fries, Three lamb sliders
Drinks - Pomegranate mimosa, Sangria, Andalusian Nights
Food - Spicy crunchy roll, Spicy calamari tempura
Drink - Sake
Fife & Drum Tavern
Food - The American Dream, Jumbo turkey leg
Drink - Not Your Father's Root Beer
Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria
Food - Calamari Fritti, Margherita pizza, Cannolo Siciliano
Drinks - Via Napoli Sangria, Via Vesuvio
Food - Gelato cup
Drink - Prosecco
Food - Traditional Sausages
Drink - Schöfferhofer Pink Grapefruit Hefeweizen
Joy of Tea
Food - Pork egg roll
Drink - Tipsy Ducks in Love
Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe
Food - Viking Chocolate Mousse
Drink - Viking coffee
La Hacienda de San Angel
Food - Pork empanadas, Tacos de Camarones
Drink - Lime raspberry margarita, Rosita margarita
Caleb and I have "been around the world" the last two years and these are our favorite picks from both years! Good luck...and don't forget to drink water! ;) Cheers! Prost! Salute!
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As I look back on 2017, I am filled with so much happiness. I spent most of this year pregnant, and I can't believe what a blessing it has been. Excitement, prepping, and waiting have mostly been the name of the game this year, but it's all worth it to make 2018 the best year yet! I wanted to take a little walk down memory lane and share some of the best moments from this year and why I'll treasure every single day of 2017.
Coming off the best baseball year of all time in 2016, going to a couple of Cubs games with Caleb during opening week was so exciting. Even though the Cubs didn't go all the way again this year, it sure was a wonderful season and we had a lot of fun cheering them on all summer long.
Mother's Day weekend was a real sweet one this year. My mother-in-law came to visit us, and we got to show her all around Chicago and Milwaukee. We had one of the best lunches of our lives at Cindy's Rooftop, and I will never forget that lobster roll! I didn't know it at the time but I was barely pregnant with Nugget this past Mother's Day! It was my last one only being a dog mom to Wrigley, too.
Just moments after finding out our family would be growing. Pure, genuine happiness and excitement. This was such a funny moment though. When I went to the store to buy a pregnancy test I wanted to be pregnant so bad but I was so scared that I wasn't. I decided I didn't want to waste extra money and buy a digital pregnancy test. I bought an analog one and thought to myself that if they worked for lots of women before, it'll work for me, too. Well I went home and did my bit (jeez that was the longest 2 minutes of my life!) and when it was time to check it, we couldn't figure it out haha! We we're like two idiots going back and forth between the stick and the box and then it finally clicked that the vertical line doesn't show up at all if you're not pregnant. Well it was clear as day and we we're jumping, cheering, crying, hugging, and Wrigley thought we were absolutely crazy!
Our first trip of the year didn't come until June. We drove out to Michigan for a family reunion and got to spend some time in Detroit. We also got to meet some family we had never had the chance of meeting before and spend time with my dear cousins, aunts, and uncles. Hopefully we'll be having another reunion in 2018 so they can all meet Nugget!
We got to host 4th of July for our family this year at our house and it was our first big summer BBQ with our family at our house. This is the day we chose to announce our big wonderful news to them and it was a day of pure joy!
Our big trip this year was visiting the Pacific Northwest. We started out in Portland, drove up to Seattle, hiked in Mount Rainier National Park, and drove to the end of US RT 12 and down US RT 101 to spend some time near the ocean. My best friend, Ashlyn, lives in Portland and we got to spend a week with her adventuring to all these places! It was my 3rd time out in Portland and 2nd time to Seattle with her but it was Caleb's first! He loved it just as much as I do, and we can't wait to take Nugget in the future!
Finally in August, we announced to everyone that we were having a baby. The month of July was spent telling all of our family and close friends our amazing news. We had lots of great dinners, FaceTime sessions, and visits with all of them talking about our exciting addition to our family. It made the summer so special and exciting even though I was battling through lots of morning sickness from my 1st trimester.
Finding out Nugget was a boy was one of the best moments of the year and of our lives, honestly. We actually knew he was going to be a boy before our gender reveal party. We decided that the way we wanted to find out was at home, just me, Caleb, and Wrigley. We went for our 20 week ultrasound and asked the tech to write the gender down and put it in an envelope. Everything looked great on the ultrasound and we looked away when she was checking that part of his anatomy. When we got home from the doctor, we sat down in our living room and opened the envelope. We pulled out a small piece of paper that said "It's a Boy!"
Last minute, we decided we wanted to take a babymoon, and we chose our favorite place in the whole world, Disney World! We spent our 2nd anniversary there and had the time of our lives. It was the break from reality that we needed. My 2nd trimester was the happiest time of the year for us and a big part of that was thanks to this trip. It refreshed us and we came home ready to fully prep for Nugget's arrival.
My baby shower that my mom and aunt hosted for me was such a special day. I was so overjoyed by all the love that our family and friends showed us and was so grateful to everyone who travelled and came to celebrate Nugget with me. I'm also so blessed that I get to share this experience with my mom and grandma. I made her a grandma and now I get to make her a great-grandma!
The holidays are such a special time of the year, and we we have been blessed to be able to spend it with our family. My father-in-law came to visit for Thanksgiving and helped us host another successful holiday at our house. We've been enjoying Christmastime in our home and making the final preparations for Nugget to join us!
I loved 2017 so much, but I can tell I'm going to love 2018 even more! Cheers to a new year everyone! I hope it's a great one filled with love, happiness, and balance. My goal or resolution for 2017 was finding a good balance of all things in my life, and I think I found that. I have a big challenge ahead that is going to rock that balance but life would be boring without challenges, and I'm so excited to take on this new one!
I’m Diana; curator & author of Tiny Dapper Fox. Here you’ll find posts on motherhood, home life, travel, & fashion/beauty as well as City Guides for places all around the world. Make yourself cozy and let’s be friends!
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