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  The first visit to Walt Disney World is stressful, confusing, and a dream come true. I am not the first on...

Sunday, December 27, 2015

What Should I Bring With Me Into The Parks?

The best way to visit the parks is travel light. Whenever I go to the parks I usually either bring a small clutch with my debit card, cell phone, pins and sunglasses inside or a small purse to carry the following in addition to an autograph book. This saves me time having to go though bag check. This also saves me energy as I do not have to lug around a heavy backpack all day long. And it saves the frustration of trying to jam all of my stuff into the tiny compartments on the rides.

Here is a list of things you may want to bring with you to the parks:

  • Cell phone 
  • Camera (can be skipped if you use your phone or photo pass photographers)
  • Sunscreen
  • Small fan (not needed, but can be a good idea for kids)
  • Water bottle (Not needed as you can get free cups of water throughout the parks)
  • Umbrella/poncho (check the weather first)
  • Autograph book/ pen (if meeting characters)
  • Trading Pins (if a pin trader)
  • Snacks (if you plan to bring some for kids)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hats

If you plan on bringing more, I suggest renting a locker. These are great, especially when park hopping. Lockers are $12 for a small and $14 for a large. Part of that is a $5 deposit that you will get back at the end of the day! You are allowed to go back to your locker as many times as you'd like. Kids bought a plush Mickey that they don't want to carry around all day? Head back to the locker after your shopping spree. Phone battery getting low? You can go to your locker to retrieve the charger. 

What do you think? Any suggestions to the list? What's something you always bring with you to the parks?

Thursday, December 24, 2015


Just saying

Top 5 Things To Do at Animal Kingdom

5. Meet Mickey and Minnie
DAK is the only park you can meet Mickey and Minnie together. All other parks they have separate meet and greets. Usually they are wearing safari outfits. However, during Christmas they are wearing winter sweaters and scarves.  This is one of the only character meets that have fastpasses available. And the que is inside, so you can cool down in A/C before heading off to your next adventure!

4. Rafiki's Planet Watch
This little-known gem is a must! The only way to get to Rafiki's Planet Watch is to hop on board the Wildlife Express. Train lovers will enjoy the scenic route. Once you are dropped off at the train station, follow paths sprinkled with gardens and cotton top tamarin exhibits to the conservation station. Inside you will find vet rooms where examinations are preformed and reptiles and insects on display. You can also meet Rafiki along with Chip and Dale here. The best part of Rafiki's Planet Watch is the Affection Section, which is as cute as it sounds. It is a petting zoo with goats, sheep, a pig and even an alpaca that animal lovers of all ages will enjoy. Be sure to look for the sheep with the hidden Mickey shaven into it's wool! Rafiki's Planet Watch is also home to 6 Wilderness Explorer badges.

3. Become a Wilderness Explorer
The movie of UP! comes to life in this hands-on activity that is both fun and educational.  The Wilderness Explorers Headquarters is located on the Discovery Island bridge. Here you will be given the handbook learn the Wilderness Explorer call.  This activity is a great way to really experience all of the park. Badges include Asian Culture, Animal Find, and Fossil Fun. Explorers of all ages can learn something. See if you can earn all badges in one day!

2. The Festival of The Lion King Show
This is the #1 rated show in all of Walt Disney World, and for good reason. This is not a simple, condensed reenactment of the movie in the way that The Voyage of The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast Live is. It is a celebration of the movie and all that it has taught us. There is a lot of crowd involvement. As a tip, if you sit close to the front or the aisles, your kid might have a chance to  even be in the finale number!

You have to see the main attraction of Animal Kingdom: the animals! It is what makes the park unique from the others. Most people will recommend the Kilimanjaro Safari ride, which is great. However, there are other ways to see animals. There are walking trails and exhibits throughout DAK that are self-paced. Go see the baby gorillas on the Pangani Forest Trail in Africa, the Tigers on the Jungle Trek in Asia, the tamarins on Discovery Island, and the macaws on the Oasis trails. My personal favorite are the muntjacks, also in the Oasis. You'll miss them if you walk straight forward on to Discovery Island. In order to see most of these animals, you'll have to channel your inner explorer and turn corners and wander down new paths.

Best Places to Take a Break - Park by Park

I cannot stress this enough - you will be doing a LOT of walking in Disney World. In order to make your trip more enjoyable, I suggest taking frequent sit-down breaks. This way, you will be able to recharge mentally and physically. Your feet will thank you!

Animal Kingdom

The Oasis Trails are the best place to take a break at Animal Kingdom. They are, for the most part, quiet, secluded and shaded. These trails are home to animals such as the macaws, rhinoceros iguana and wallabies. You will be able to enjoy these animals while sitting on one of the many benches throughout the trail. There is even a shady cave right before the bridge to Discovery Island that has seating.

Discovery Island
Since Discovery Island is home to many food kiosks and restaurants, there are a lot of tables to be found. My personal favorite place to take a break on Discovery Island is the seating area behind Flame Tree Barbecue. The closer you can get to the water, the better. Be aware, you might have more trouble finding an open spot between noon and two in the afternoon.

Another good resting area is outside of Island Mercantile. There are themed seating areas along the perimeter of the store. This is on the list of places to rest because it offers a fantastic view of the Tree of Life. Also, if you like to people watch, this is a good spot to do so. You may even feel some of the air conditioning coming from the store!

(People resting on Discovery Island)

Dinoland is often packed as it is a top attraction for younger kids. However, if you find yourself in the area and in need of a break, I suggest to head to the back of the land, where it is less crowded. There are shaded seating areas outside of the Dinosuar ride.

Asia is one of those lands that you do not want to rush through. It is beautifully designed and very detailed oriented. There is a restroom by Yak and Yeti. Hanging from the ceiling and walls is gear needed for an expedition to climb Mount Everest. You will find items such as backpacks, sleeping bags and lanterns. While waiting for everyone to come out of the restroom, see how many different items you can find.
(Asia restrooms)

If you are looking to sit at a table, I recommend the seating area behind Drink Wallah by the bridge to Discovery Island. Seating is limited, but it is secluded.
(Behind Drink Wallah)

One of my favorite places in all of Animal Kingdom is the trail behind the Tree of Life, connecting Asia and Africa. It offers stunning views, and there are a couple of food and drink kiosks throughout the path. Around the corner from where Baloo and King Louie meet is an area with tables and chairs - similar to Drink Wallah. While you and your family take a break here (maybe with a Mickey ice cream bar) see how many different animals you can find carved into the Tree of Life!
(Families rehydrating before their next adventure!)

Africa is hopping compared to Asia. However, you may be able to find some seating along the perimeter of Tusker House, next to the stage where live music plays!


Future World
My favorite place to take a break is on one of the concrete half-walls between Starbucks and The Art of Disney. This is a good view of Spaceship Earth, and there are bathrooms and food carts a few steps away!

World Showcase
There is seating to be found all around the showcase in every country. Keep your eyes out because every country has some sort of resting area! There are benches at Japan, Morocco and China. And if there is nothing showing at the American theater, you can even try to sit there!
(Even this fountain can be used as additional seating!)

Hollywood Studios
Between Brown Derby and the Animation Courtyard are some shaded benches. This is typically quieter, as most people enter Animation Courtyard from the Great Movie Ride side. There are usually some popcorn and ice cream stands in this area, so feel free to take a snack break!
(Turn the corner at this sign and find benches!)

Sunset Ranch is typically crowded, but if you go behind Hollywood Scoops, before the Rockin' Rollercoaster sign, there are a few places to sit. And it's quieter than the cafeteria-like tables by the other food stands. Take a breather here after you've done some shopping on Sunset Boulevard or while you're waiting to line up for Fantasmic.

Magic Kingdom

Main Street
The two best places to take a break on Main Street are the train station and the corner between Uptown Jewelers and Crystal Arts. The Train Station offers a breathtaking view of all of Main Street and the castle. The corner of the street is the most quiet part of Main Street. Tip - if you listen closely you can hear a music lesson going on!

                                           (the view of Main Street from the Train Station)
There are benches inside of Zanzibar. Because it's in a store, you're away from foot traffic and you're in air-conditioning.

There are rocking chairs all along the porches of the shops. Feel free to even take a seat on the curb of the porch.
(Enjoy the fine view, folks!)

A tradition for me whenever I venture into Magic Kingdom is to buy ice-cream from Storybook treats and then sit on the benches of the castle walls, the entrance to the Enchanted Forest. Granted, you do not have to buy ice ream (although it's delicious!), but this is a good stopping place if your kids tucker out from walking. It's also a great place to people watch as you wait for your fastpasses for Winnie the Pooh, Mine Train, or Peter Pan to start.

Fantasyland also has a "mini land" designed especially as a rest area. The Tangled themed area has bathrooms, benches, tables, and even outlets to charge your phone. While you wait for your phone to charge, you can have the kids play hide and seek with Pascal! There are Pascals hidden throughout the Tangled area.
(Guests resting below the lanterns)

Another place I recommend is Gaston's Tarvern. Not only does it provide food (split a cinnamon roll or fruit cup with your family!) and iced drinks (LeFou's Brew), but it is in air-conditioning. If you cannot find space inside, or if it is not too hot, there are tables outside as well. There are even bathrooms nearby.

My favorite place in all of Magic Kingdom is Cinderella's Wishing Well. You can enter it from two ways.You can take the path by where Merida meets. Or you can go past the carrousel towards the castle and take a left by Sir Mickey's. Not a lot of people know about this path, so it is usually quiet. It offers stunning views of the castle and Main Street. And the best part is the Wishing Well! If you have any extra change, go ahead and toss it into the well. All of the change thrown into the well is collected and donated to various charities. So not only will you be making a wish for yourself, but you will also help other people's wishes come true!