Walt Disney World: An Amateur’s Guide

I know, I know-I have owed you this Disney post for a long time. With back to back travel in February then the Gibson International Women’s Day Collection launch the other week, it has been crazy! I have found it hard to find time to sit and work on this post-I wanted to make sure I shared good info and didn’t just throw it together!

Before I continue, I will put it out there that I am not a Disney expert by any means. Ryan and I went just the 2 of us in 2007 (when you got your fast pass from a little kiosk thing, and it was an actual ticket), and then we went with my parents a few years ago, and again last month. So-while I definitely figured out what we liked/ didn’t like, what worked/didn’t work, what was worth it/what wasn’t, I don’t know all of the crazy ins and outs of vacationing at Disney World!

ITINERARY/PRE TRIP PLANNING

When we were talking about going to Disney years ago a customer of mine mentioned that she used a service called Glass Slipper Concierge and recommended it to us.

We ended up using them (Brittany Sexton is our gal) years ago and we used them this time around. What is so great about using a service like Glass Slipper Concierge? They know everythingOh you’re interested in that? Not worth it. Have you thought about eating here? It’s the best. You want to do this ride and this dinner? Ok they’re at different parks so you might not want to do them on the same day.

On both of our trips, my parents took us all, along with my brother so they handled most of the correspondence with Brittany. I know any time I had a question about this or that my Dad would always say “let me text Brittany!” and she always responded relatively quickly.

Several months in advance we sent her a list of the restaurants we wanted to try, and the rides we wanted Fast Passes for-she worked her magic and coordinated our days for us based on what parks we wanted to do, where we wanted to eat, and what rides we wanted to try. It was so nice that we didn’t have to stay up late waiting for the time when we were able to book our Fast Passes and dining reservations (I’ve had friends that have done this, and I hear it’s not fun). I truly can’t recommend Glass Slipper Concierge and Brittany enough. (this isn’t sponsored, by the way).

We ended up 4 days of Park Hopper passes-that meant that we had four days, Friday-Monday, to go from park to park. It was nice to have that option, but we really only did one park each day. While it was a lot to do one park in one day, it was totally doable!

This time around, my Dad did mention (and I think I have to agree), that it would have been nice to incorporate a break day in the middle of the trip. A day to just relax by the pool, not rush around to rides and parks and reservations, etc.

MEAL PLANS/SNACKS/FOOD

We opted for a meal plan and it seemed to work best for us. With our meal plan we had one “sit down” meal for the day and then we each had two snacks included in our meal plan AND a quick service meal per day . It really is plenty! There are certain restaurants that fall under a sit down, and then others that are classified as quick service. I should note that there are some sit down places that “cost” two meals, but those places will be noted.

There are a ton of quick service options in all of the parks and you get plenty of food. More recently (I was told within the last 6 months), alcohol is could be included with the quick service meals. I want to say it was considered one of your sides! Alcohol does not count as a snack though.

We used our snacks throughout the day in the parks as just that-snacks. My fave were the Mickey Soft Pretzels. That seemed to be what I had the most! I also used them for Diet Cokes, too!

Here is where we ate for our big meals:

Chef Mickey’s: We liked this because it was right where we stayed (The Contemporary), and we also got to see Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy and Donald all in one sitting. Our girls didn’t have an interest in searching for these characters in the parks, but if your kids truly want to see them, this is a great option to see these characters without having to wait in line.

Chef Mickey’s is a buffet-the food wasn’t amazing to me. It was what you would expect at a buffet, and you can eat however much or how little you want!

‘Ohana at the Polynesian I think this was our favorite meal. While there are no characters at this one, the food was delicious and plentiful. THe pork dumplings, teryaki noodles, chicken, steak-it was all so delicious! ALSO (and super important lol) if you are like me and desparate for Dole Whip, you can get it at the Polynesian. That was all I wanted the whole trip and didn’t get a chance to get any so I was super excited they had it there and there was no line! Totally worth the wait!

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall: Ok-this is a MUST if you want to meet a lot of princesses! You will see Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel and Belle. The food is really great as well. There is a buffet, but then they also bring you bottomless sausage, scrambled eggs and potato casserole.

Here is what made this breakfast EVEN BETTER. We got to Epcot early, because our breakfast was at 9:00. We were about 15-20 mins early for our breakfast. The Akershus is literally right where the new Frozen ride is. Little did we know that since we were early, they told us we were able to ride the Frozen ride. There was NO LINE and it was amazing!

I was kind of bummed that we didn’t know this ahead of time, because we had booked a fast pass for that ride later in the day. Had we known, we probably would have used that fast pass for something else, but the girls were super excited to be able to ride it twice.

So-if you book this, book it for around 9:00 and get there early so you can ride the Frozen ride without waiting in any line!

50’s Primetime Cafe: This was one of the places that I wanted to eat at because I loved it from our last trip. As soon as you walk in, it’s like you’re transported back in time and I love it. They servers treat you like their children-yell at you to get your elbows off the table, remind you to eat your vegetables, etc. It’s super fun, especially if you really interact with them!

The Crystal Palace: If you’re a fan of all of the Winnie the Pooh characters, then this is the restaurant for you! It’s really pretty on the inside-I loved the ambiance and the fact that is was super convenient in Magic Kingdom! This is another buffet so it is what you make of it! While there, you see Pooh, Piglet, Eyore and Tigger!

WHERE WE STAYED

We stayed at The Contemporary and loved it. When we went a few years ago we stayed at Saratoga Springs. We liked that as well, it was just really far from all of the parks. From Saratoga Springs you had to take the shuttle-not the end of the world at all it just seemed like a long ride.

What we loved most about the Contemporary was it’s location. It was within walking distance of Magic Kingdom and along the walk had it’s own security checkpoint so it sped up the process of getting into the park. We didn’t have to wait in the long security lines everyone else had to wait in. It saved so much time at Magic Kingdom.

The monorail also goes literally right through the Contemporary so that was cool for the girls to see. We rode the monorail a few times to get to other parks and that was pretty quick, too! I think we only had to ride the shuttle to Hollywood Studios.

The rooms were really nice and the pool area was great as well. We arrived Thursday around lunch time and didn’t have a park hopper pass for that day so we spent the afternoon at the pool-it was so nice and the girls loved it.

WHAT AGE IS GOOD FOR KIDS TO GO

I got asked this question several times, and honestly I think it just depends on your own personal preference. We took the girls for the first time when Charlotte was 3.5 and Ella was 7. We had a great time with them then, but Charlotte was just a smidge small for some of the rides there. This time around, Charlotte was 6 and Ella was 10-both great ages! Both were tall enough for all of the rides and we could spend the whole day without having to worry about naps or anything.

Ultimately, do what works best for you and your family!

SUPPLY LIST: WHAT TO BRING TO THE PARK

First things first, strollers. I personally would not recommend getting them at the park. They are first come first served, so you run the risk of not getting one.

There are plenty of stroller rental places that you can choose from. The one we used several years ago, and the one we used this time around delivered our stroller right to our hotel-it was super convenient. I think this is who we used! If you have more than one child and are contemplating a double stroller, I would not recommend that! I would opt for two single strollers instead!

Friends of ours gave us this piece of advice the last time we went in regards to strollers-it’s easier to have two single strollers instead of a double that way if you need to split up for any reason you will both have a stroller! Also, when the girls were 3.5 and 7 we got strollers for both of them. We didn’t think we would have Ella use it much because of her age at the time, but it made things so much easier and we covered ground so much faster with her in it.

This time around, with the girls being 6 and 10, we only got a stroller for Charlotte. Ella did great with walking and didn’t tire out as much as we thought she would. We had Charlotte use the stroller pretty much from the get go.

In your every day lives, if you don’t use a stroller so you think you may not need one in Disney, just think about it a little more! On average we walked several miles every day in the parks. That’s a lot for little feet! And not to mention, the strollers are great for storage too!

Here are some other incidentals I packed in my backpack (not only for myself but for everyone)

Medicine (adult and kids)

Tissues

Sunscreen

Essentail Oils (Thieves, Peppermint were big ones)

Band aids

Bottled Water

Snacks (Gogurt/granola bars/fruit snacks)

Portable phone chargers

Hair ties/bobbi pins

Empty ziplock bags

Rain gear

To carry everything I used this Freshly Picked backpack. It’s technically a diaper bag, but you can obviously not use it as a diaper bag. It’s a little bit of a splurge for me but I love it and it seems to be bottomless as to what it holds!

I also used my Blair Ritchey PAK Mini as a belt bag and it was perfect for anything that I needed frequently and quickly throughout the day!

HOW WE MANAGED THE GIRLS IF THEY DIDN’T WANT TO DO SOMETHING PLANNED

There were definitely certain rides that either of the girls didn’t want to do. A lot of rides (not all) offer what they call Ride Share. Basically, you all wait in line, then when it’s your turn, one parent waits while the other rides, then you swap. It’s really convenient because you don’t have to wait in line all over again.

We also had my parents with us, so it was nice to have them as well to sit with whoever didn’t want to ride. So between myself, Ryan and my parents we always had someone to sit with the girls. For the rides that we did that didn’t have Ride Share, we just took turns. It took a little bit longer because we had to wait in line (it was Fast Pass lines, so not insanely long), but it’s what worked for us!

WHAT IS A GOOD TIME TO GO?

Again, I am not a Disney expert, but we love going in February. We’ve heard from numerous people that February and October are great times to go. I truly don’t think there is ever a time where it isn’t crowded, but there are times where it’s less crowded.

Both of the times we went in February there was a national cheerleading competition so there were tons of cheerleaders, but to me it still wasn’t overly crowded to me.

BEST WAYS TO MIX AND MATCH CLOTHING

Both of the times I went to Disney, I focused on black, red, white and gray as my color palette, that way I could mix and match as much or as little as I wanted.

The only tough thing about going in February is the weather is unpredictable as far as temperature. When we went years ago it ended up being freezing and had to layer a bunch. This time around it was pretty hot-the complete opposite!

To prepare I just brought layers for all of us and tossed something extra like a sweatshirt or denim jacket in the stroller just in case we needed anything.

You can read my blog post on what I packed here, but I will say it was a lot of stripes and a lot of black and red!

I had a lot of questions about these Minnie shoes and whether or not they were comfortable. Initially, I want to say no, but I didn’t really break them in before I wore them so by the end of the day my feet were hurting! I have worn them since then here and there and they feel so much better!

I think I covered most of the questions you all had! Like I said, I am a total amateur, but there were definitely things I made note of that worked for us and were worth sharing!

If you have any more questions at all, just let me know!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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