Visiting the Mouse – Part 2

Part 2 Time to Plan & Book Your Fun at Walt Disney World

There are so many important dates to remember, it is easy to get lost.  Make sure you put these big ones in your calendar as they do approach so quickly.  This is a long post but filled with tons of information as I didn’t want to leave anything out. 
Photo credit cruisegetawaydeals.com

We called a Disney meeting in the backyard during the summer which included dinner, drinks and a movie to keep little ears away.  We laid out a grid with thoughts as to a game plan each day and what park we’d like to go to when.  We all came with some homework done as to which park had the late night when, and what shows or special events were happening on which day.   This was everyone’s chance to get their must do’s on the board and to do our best to make it all fit.  We sat armed with cell phones, My Disney Experence App and computers so we could all look up a variety of questions that arrose.  All in all we talked for over an hour trying to make sure we didn’t leave any request or information off the list.   I will say, start to become familiar with the app as it is truly the most helpful tool while in the park once you dump all your data in it. It is linked between family members, reminds you of fastpasses+ and reservation as well as things you’ve marked and possible. 

Special Adventures – Bippy Boppy Boutique & The Pirate’s League both can be booked 180 days in advance.  The Star Wars Jedi School at Hollywood Studios can only be booked for the day of by the parent & CHILD being present when the gates open, sometimes as early at 7am. All of the special adventures are such great fun.

There is just so much information when looking into special adventures at Walt Disney World.  In the hopes of not overwhelming my blog post here, I decided to break this out into an additional post which can be found by clicking here.

Dinner Reservations – Can be made 180 days in advance of arrival.  Book all character meals first as those fill the fastest.  I’d personally recommend at least one meal a day where you sit and relax to dine.

Fast Passes+– 60 Day prior to arrival.  Book ASAP they go so quickly.  Pick the 3 important things for your family each day and make sure those happen. It might be a sit down meal, seeing a princess, catching the fireworks, or a thrill ride. Know you won’t get to it ALL but a good plan helps see lots.  Plan the use of your passes in a logical direction noting where  you need to be for meals.  Don’t use passes for the first hour of park opening you’re likely to get on a ride in short order and you will have wasted a fastpass+ booking.

PhotoPass Memory Maker – I went against my better judgement and did not order this ahead of time. The package is available at a discount before you arrive but goes up the closer you get to arrival date. It is a such an easy and great program.  They snap some great photos, scan your bracelet aka Magic Band and they appear instantly on you phone with the My Disney Experience app. When you get home you can download them a bunch of times.

Strollers -Which would you rather roll in for the day?  Photo credit: Mom Endeavors. Kingdom Strollers worked out to be awesome for us.  I booked a city mini double.  It arrived clean, ontime and was great.  My 6 year old enjoys ridding and it was so much easier to just have both kids sitting safely when navigating crowded parks or late at night.  It was nice using the stroller from our hotel room door and back.  The park strollers have to be handed in prior to park departure where as we would keep ours as we stood in line for monorails, trams, and busses loaded with sleeping children.   The 2016 pricing for a double was $18 a day for Stroller Kingdom and $27 per day for the Disney stroller. (Note that if you keep your receipt and are using a park hopper you can show it at the next park and get another stroller.)

Groceries If you book Stroller Kingdom first you’ll receive a coupon for Orlando Groceries.  You have until prior to 72 hours before arrival to book and guarantee on time delivery.  My grocery list will appear in a latter blog post.

This only represents our trip there are tons of suggestions out there.  Have fun and enjoy the journey and adventures of Walt Disney World.

 

Additional blog posts and more coming soon…

Part 1: Research & Booking 

Special Adventures

Part 3: Time to Shop

Part 4: Packing & Hunting

Part 5: Here We GO!

Part 6: Playing in the Park 

Part 7: Memories & Lessons Learned

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Visiting the Mouse

Part 1: Research & Booking your trip to Walt Disney World

In November 2016 our family went on  a trip to pay homage to the Mouse.  We planned an awesome 5 day 4 night trip for 2 adults, 2 kids (ages 6 & 2.5) 1 teen (age 17) and 2 grandparents (who well, could have been considered teens themselves; they went on so many rides).  This only represents our trip; there are tons of suggestions out there on the internet.

Have fun and enjoy the planning.  Do not let it overwhelm you, as it can easily, but enjoy talking to friends, family, hunting thru blogs and talking to the people behind you at the grocery store.  Everyone will have had a different trip, but take all the pieces and create your own.  I created a Pinterest board and my mother-in-love and I had a bit of fun pinning all the ideas, must dos, and suggestions to it.

Do your homework there are always packages out there.  We researched online at AAA and Disney direct.  We went with AAA cause they had better pricing.  We booked flights separately as we used our credit card points and frequent flyer miles.  If you book your flights separately be sure to give this information to your travel agent as they are able to link your itineraries together.  This will eliminate any gaps, or misinformation between your travel and your Disney experience.

You will only have access to booking the Disney meal plan when you book your room and tickets.  You can’t add it on later, so know if you want this option.  We took the meal plan and it worked well for us.  It’s a sit-down, quick service, and snack each day.  We had a small soft cooler and zip lock bags and squirreled away food that wasn’t eaten within the meal time for later.  Think college days in the mess hall.  All transactions are done thru your magic bands for meal plans and room charge purchases (i.e. bottle of wine at dinner, meals not covered in the Disney meal plan, souvenirs etc.)  Sometimes the meal plan is free depending the time of year you are booking.  If we had gone a week later they were offering it as a promotion.

There are never discounts on park tickets (only FL residents)  I’d say just get passes for every day.  Even if you spend a whole day at the hotel pool, you can go into the park for dinner and fireworks.  I think it would be hard to pick which day you’re doing fun in the sun poolside and not buy passes that far out without a weather report.  There is one park that is open late each night.  It rotates so grab a schedule and plan from there.  For us the Park Hopper was a must.  This additional charge isn’t cheap but allows you to go between parks within a single day.  We would go to one park for the day and than cross over to another for dinner and fireworks.

We booked our flight for early in the AM.  We left our house at 4am and arrived in MCO at 11:30am.  We were in our room at the hotel by 1pm.  We took advantage of the Disney Magic Express which is the free bus service from the airport to your hotel.  With this service your luggage is handled by airport employees and than Disney Cast members (they aren’t called staff or employees).  You won’t see it or have to pick it up in the airport upon arrival.  They do say it can take up to 3 hours from your arrival time to when your bags arrive in your room.  We chose to take naps and unpack taking time to get settled before we  hit the parks.  We had dinner early at our hotel at 5pm and went strait to the late night park for fastpass+ rides, character meetings, and fireworks.  Worked well for us.  It was a week day so the fireworks started at 9pm and we were back at the hotel and in bed by 10:30pm.  Where we all crashed.

Learn some fun facts about the time of year you’re planning.  Mickey Mouse’s Birthday is November 19, 1928.  What type of weather or crowds are expected?  What holiday will the park be decorated for?  If in November you can get an awesome Christmas card photo without a lot of work.  Arriving at the same time as Santa?  Ship your items already wrapped via Amazon or set up delivery for your hotel.  All deliveries are held at the luggage room so you don’t have to worry about little people walking in on them at the wrong time.

Remember this trip, if it’s your first time, can be overwhelming so seek help, support, and enjoy the process and excitement.  Happy planning and by the time you get home you’ll be in love with Mickey Mouse and planning when you can go back!

 

Blog posts coming soon…

Part 2: Time to Plan & Book your Fun

Special Adventures

Part 3: Time to Shop

Part 4: Packing & Hunting

Part 5: Here We GO!

Part 6: Playing in the Park

Part 7: Memories & Lessons Learned