37.6 miles of walking later my best friend, Ann, and I believe that we can offer some words of advice to anyone who is going to embark upon a Walt Disney World Adventure.
We planned a Girls Trip with the help of friend Allison Spruill who is a Disney Magical Vacation Planner. Seriously, folks, that is my first piece of advice. Using a personal planner was the best move. Allison gave us all the information we needed, was always available for questions and had insider knowledge of what we needed to know. These folks who represent Disney get paid through Disney so there is no additional fee to the guest and it is the perfect way to book a trip. Trust me on this.
Okay– off to our advice. Or at least some of our advice.
Stay on the property. We stayed in a moderately priced Disney property Port Orleans – The French Quarter. The rooms are probably smaller than some other rooms at the resorts but honestly we were there for the experience and not the room. The room was always clean and tidy and the convenience of its location was the selling point. Not only could we connect with the multitude of Disney transportation busses that took us to the various parks and other hotels, we could also take the boat to Disney Springs which we did multiple times. Easy and convenient.
Use the Magical Express Transportation and Luggage Service. Disney makes it so easy to get to and from the airport and the best thing ever is their service to actually transport the guest checked luggage. Yes! No checking it in and lugging it around after arrival. A special yellow tag ensures that your luggage gets marked and sent to the Disney area where the magic happens. Our luggage arrived in our room while we were at dinner. On the trip home all we had to do was hand it over to the Disney cast member who was in charge of the luggage and it was on the luggage carousel when we arrived in Charlotte on our return trip. Taking the bus from the airport to the resort was simple and easy and stress free.
Magic Bands Rock. Disney has these great things called Magic Bands that you can use to enter the parks, your hotel room, and pay for food and souvenirs. We actually took ours out of the wrist band and wore them in a fob like thing that we purchased attached to a lanyard around our necks. This was easier for us and worked like a charm. One warning about the Magic Band is that those charges will add up. It is so easy to swipe it and buy things so if you have a budget make sure you keep track of how much you are putting on that little bit of technology or when you get your final bill you might be in shock. Set your limit and keep track of those receipts or view them on your mobile app.
The Disney My Experience App is the perfect way to get the most out of Disney. I had downloaded it as soon as we booked our trip and it was a huge help in navigating the park, making reservations for dinner, checking out what attractions we wanted to go to and even ordering food. Allison had told us that we could order from many restaurants through the app and we used the Mobile Ordering several times during our stay. Ordering ahead meant that we could place the order, skip the long lines and pick up our food in the special area reserved for mobile ordering. The most difficult part was usually finding a seat once we got our food but it worked like a charm.
Buy the cup. Many of the places like the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory located in Disney’s Port Orleans Resort have a special deal on drinks. If you buy a cup ($18.99) you can refill it repeatedly. If you are a soda drinker or coffee drinker this little gem is worth it if you are staying for an extended period of time. Those drinks add up and this is one way to manage your budget a bit better. The only downside is that you have to carry the cup around so that isn’t a huge deal most of the time.
You don’t have to see it all. We may not have been the typical Disney visitors but we decided early on that we didn’t have to see it all. That took a lot of stress away. We did use our Fast Pass options (special entrances for Fast Pass users with much shorter lines) and enjoyed all the rides and shows that we went to but we did not stress out when something was not available. Trust me, there is plenty to see and if you pace yourself and just ENJOY you will have a magical experience.
Final observation: almost every ride ends up in a gift shop so Disney counts on hooking you with loving the ride and buying some theme related souvenirs. Judging from the bags I saw folks carrying their marketing plan works well.
Come back later in the week for a look at some of the food we had while we were at the Disney theme parks. I know you won’t want to miss those pictures.
Have you been to a Disney park? If so what was your experience like? Let me know in the comments section. All comments in February go to support our Comments for a Cause – The Bookworm Box.