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!
Hi ho everyone! I hope you're all having a magical week! I thought I'd bring some extra cheer to you today and share our top tips for going on vacation to Walt Disney World. One thing I always notice when chatting with people who have never been to Disney or haven't been in a long time say is how overwhelming all the options can be. There's so much to choose from and tons of questions swirling around in our heads when it comes to planning a Disney World trip, so here is our best advice for planning it all out to ensure you will have the best trip ever!
1. Stay at a Disney Resort
This is seriously our number one tip, and I'm going to apologize for the long winded explanation but it's necessary. I know it may be tempting to stay off resort because you might find a cheaper option or because you want to do other things in Central Florida besides Disney, but this is speaking from first hand experience, don't do it. If you are going to go to Disney at all, stay on property. It will make your experience so much better, relaxed, and organized. If you want to do other things in the area besides Disney, that's fine...in fact I highly suggest it! Universal Studios is so fun, and we loved going to the coast and seeing the Kennedy Space Center. In order to do these things you have to have a car, so in your head it might be better to just stay somewhere besides a Disney hotel because of that factor. It's not better, it's actually kind of frustrating. Most hotels in the Orlando area are what they call "Disney Good Neighbor Hotels," meaning that they only provide shuttles to Disney World. No shuttles to the coast, Universal, or the airport. Ok that's fine right because you have your car. Well you have to pay to park at their hotel plus you have to pay to park at Universal plus you have to pay for gas. You can kick the shuttle idea out too and drive to Disney, but you'll have to pay to park there, too. If you do choose to have a car with you and you stay at a Disney hotel, your parking is free. Let's say you don't want to have a car with you though (rental fees can be really high in the Orlando area), you can take the Disney Magical Express for free from the airport to your Disney resort! Then you just simply use the Disney bus system to get all around Disney World. You also have the convenience of being able to go back to your room all day long. You don't have to wait for specific hotel shuttle times (they are usually every 2 hours if you're lucky) and the logistics of getting back to the bus depot can be a nightmare. One time we missed our shuttle bus to our off resort hotel and had to wait in the parking lot for an hour and a half because we couldn't get out of the parks fast enough (this is really really common...lots of people go to Disney World!) On our first trip we had to spend all day long at the parks with no breaks, and I can't even imagine how miserable that would have been with kids. I was exhausted, so imagine our poor little ones! Disney is supposed to be the most fun vacation you go on so take advantage of the 30 hotels that are available to stay at there. If you book everything together their budget friendly hotels are the same if not cheaper in price as most off-resort hotels. There really is a price range for everyone. You'll also get so many more perks like being able to purchase a dining plan, free mini golf, extra magic hours at the parks, and early FastPass+ selections.
2. Get a Dining Plan
If you stay at a Disney hotel, get a dining plan. Imagine how nice it is to show up for your vacation and everything is paid for even your food? That's what the dining plan does for you. You get snacks, quick service meals (like a hot dog and fries), and table service meals (like steak or buffets). It doesn't matter if you order a salad or a steak for dinner...it's all the same because you're just using your table service credit for that day. You can also use your credits however you want...so if you technically only have one table service meal per day but you want to use two, you can do so...you would just use two quick service meals the next day to make up for it. You can go almost anywhere in Disney World and use the dining plan, too. You order what you want, scan your MagicBand (which is a free wristband Disney provides to you if you stay at a resort that is your room key, park admission pass, and even allows you to pay for things without pulling out your wallet), and get your food. It's so simple, and we love not having to keep track of how much money we've spent on food. We actually saved money because we got the dining plan. When all is said and done we all spend a lot of money on food each day so if you do the math, based on the prices of the dining plan versus how much you'd naturally spend on each item, you would see that you'll save hundreds of dollars. Plus in 2018, table service meals allow your drink to be alcoholic for all of us that want to unwind after a long day at the parks :)
3. Do 1 Park Per Day
I'm not even going to say you'll get the most out of Disney if you do 1 park per day because that is honestly a lie. You honestly probably need 2 days per park plus extra days to enjoy everything else, but that's excessive. I know personally we try to limit our vacations to 5-7 days, but in order to have a fun and relaxing time, you really should try to just do 1 park per day. This way you're not wasting too much time on transportation and you can spread everything out. We had way more fun this time around when we only hit up 1 park per day and were able to take breaks back to our hotel, see more shows, and not have to rush through meals. So what I'm technically telling you is you don't really need a park hopper. It's nice to have just in case you want to pop over to a different park but it's really not necessary and will save you a couple hundred dollars. In our minds it was better to save $200 and just enjoy each park we picked to start our day out with the whole day.
4. Make Dining Reservations 180 Days in Advance
You might not know that you're going to Disney 180 days in advance, and that's ok, don't panic. You can still eat at some really spectacular places. But if you do know 6 months ahead of time, log on at midnight EST and make your reservations. You will have a much better chance at getting to eat at places like Be Our Guest, Cinderella's Royal Table, and Victoria & Albert's if you do so. And trust me, these restaurants are some of the best in the world and amazing experiences you don't want to miss.
5. Make Your FastPass+ Selections as Early in the Day as Possible
If you stay at a Disney hotel, you can make your FastPass+ selections 60 days before your trip (hey another Disney hotel perk!) or you can make them 30 days before your trip if you aren't staying at a Disney hotel but have your park tickets purchased. You can make up to 3 in advance. When you go to make your selections you can only do 1 park per day (hey another reason to stick with 1 park per day!), and I highly recommend trying to make them all for morning time slots. This way after you're done with your first 3, you can start making more for the rest of the day. FastPass+ selections tend to open up all the time because of people cancelling and changing their plans, so you really can get some good ones the day of. I can't promise you can get Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom the day of, so maybe make that one 60 days in advance and stick to it, but you can get some other very popular rides the day of. If you spread your first 3 out too much and your third one isn't until 7pm, you won't be able to make anymore until after 7pm. So it's worth it to select them as soon as you can but also to pack them all in early so you can add more later in the day.
6. Keep Track of Your Trip on the My Disney Experience App
This last tip is so simple but so necessary, make sure you download the My Disney Experience app to your phone. You have to create a Disney account when you book any form of a Disney trip anyways so that part is already done for you. After you download the app, just log in with that account and all your reservations will be available for you to see through the app. You can also make FastPass+ selections from it, see wait times for rides and shows, have maps of all the parks, and check on your dining plan. This app is so useful and well put together it's almost as mind blowing as Disney World itself. If you also chose to purchase the Memory Maker (which is the photo pass), you can view all of your photos from the entire trip through the app, as well.
I think I'm going to leave it at these 6. I can talk about Disney World and logistics of planning a trip there for days, so if you want to know more please leave me a comment with your question below! Look for more posts from our Disney series in the future, too. We'll cover some of these same topics with more in depth information, so make sure to send us your questions so we can include them in our next posts!
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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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