Special Mouse Podcast: Disney with Diabetes

November 9, 2012 Cheryl 2

A few weeks ago I was interviewed for a podcast where I discussed my latest trip to the Walt Disney World Resort, and what it is like to travel with diabetes.  Hosted by Kathy Kelly, RN, Special Mouse is a podcast devoted to Disney Parks and Travel for guests with a variety of health issues and special needs. Their mission is to empower everyone to share in the Magic of Disney!  Please take a moment to listen to my interview.  The podcast is available on their website, iTunes, and Stitcher. The Magic is for Everyone!

More Disney Cruise Line® News: Free Onboard Credit and Half-Off Deposits

November 8, 2012 Cheryl 1
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With the holidays approaching, we all start to feel a familiar “crunch” in our wallets.  To help out, Disney Cruise Line® has released a promotion that will allow you to plan your upcoming vacation at sea right now without dipping into too much of your holiday budget!

Now through Dec. 16, 2012, all new Disney Cruise Line® bookings will receive a $25 onboard credit per stateroom to spend during your vacation!  You can spend it however you’d like – a romantic dinner at Palo, a relaxing spa treatment, souvenirs for your friends at home, or towards an amazing port adventure – it’s your choice, and the possibilities are endless. As an added bonus, you will also receive half-off deposit! Disney Cruise Line® is temporarily lowering the required deposit to allow you to book now and pay later. The best part is that both of these are combinable with other offers like “Kids Sail Free on Select Cruises from Galveston”!

Contact me today if you are interested in booking your dream Disney Cruise Line® getaway!

 

Celebrating the Holidays in Central Florida 2012

November 7, 2012 Cheryl 15
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I heard my first Christmas song last week – I know, the first week of November and it started already!!  I still remember being a little kid and driving home from Thanksgiving dinner and seeing all of the Christmas lights coming on for the first time.  Now every store you look in has decorations out, the toy catalog’s have been delivered, and radio stations are devoting 24 hours a day to Christmas songs!!  So, I guess it is time to start thinking about the winter holidays, and what better a place to celebrate than in Central Florida!!

All of the Florida Theme Parks (and some hotels too) really go all out during the holiday season.  Here are just some of the great events!

The Walt Disney World Resort®

From Main Street USA to the hotels, the Walt Disney World Resort really goes all out for the winter holidays!  The Animal Kingdom has a special parade called Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade, where the spirit of the savanna blends with the energy of the holidays.  All of the resorts get a holiday makeover, but none is as dramatic as Disney’s Grand Floridian and Spa.  They have a 45-foot tree, and a life-size edible Gingerbread House where you can actually purchase gingerbread and other holiday treats!  Amazing!!  Here are some other holiday goings-ons around the World:

Magic Kingdom

Beginning on November 9th and running on certain evenings through December 21st is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  This separate ticketed event includes park admission, free cocoa and cookies, holiday themed shows and fireworks, characters dressed in their holiday finest, and an amazing view of Cinderella’s Castle decked out in twinkle lights!  In December the holiday parades, castle display and special fireworks are also available during regular park days as well.  Santa arrives on his sleigh, the whole park is decorated in its Christmas finest, and there are tons of festive goodies to eat.  Look out, you might even see some magical snow!

Hollywood Studios

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights on the Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a dazzling seasonal display featuring millions of glittering lights synchronized to holiday music.  This is the mother of all holiday light displays!  Entire buildings are blanketed in multi-colored lights, and thousands more lights drape between the buildings – Santa and his reindeer are even there lighting up the night sky.  About every 10 minutes the lights dim and then pop back to life!  There is even the occasional snow flurry to add to the holiday magic.  Plus, the Walt Disney World® Resort has announced that this year, Santa Goofy will join the fun inside his very own Winter Wonderland. This area will serve as a meet and greet area during The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

Epcot

Visit the American Garden Theatre on select nights November 23 – December 30 to hear a celebrity narrator retell the story of Christmas, accompanied by a very talented choir and a 50-piece orchestra, in Holidays Around the World – candlelight Processional.  This beautiful holiday spectacular is free with your park ticket and can also be combined with a lunch or dinner, fireworks, and guaranteed seating selection with the Candlelight Dinner Package.  And be sure to check out all of the Christmas Markets in the World Showcase!

Celebration

Although not technically part of Walt Disney World, it is the town that Disney built.  From November 24th – December 31st, the town will be hosting the Now Snowing! Winter Wonderland Spectacular.  Four times per night the air will be filled with snow flakes, without that pesky cold that usually comes with them!  Santa will be on hand to take pictures, there will be strolling holiday carolers, and you can even take a spin around Celebration’s ice rink.

Universal Orlando Resort®

Not to be outdone by by it’s neighbor across town, Universal Orlando Resort® is filled with it’s own style of holiday cheer! During select dates in December, Universal Island of Adventure patrons get the chance to frolic about Seuss Landing with the Who’s of Whoville and witness Christmas coming to life Grinch style!  Need more Grinch?  He will be available for photo’s and you can even have breakfast with him at The Grinch™ & Friends Character Breakfast.

On the other side of the Universal Orlando, in Universal Studios Florida®, direct from New York City’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade are floats and balloons brought to life again in Florida’s version of the classic tradition – Macy’s Holiday Parade!  Your little ones will love A Barney® Holiday, and adults will love The Blues Broth Brothers® Holiday Show, where you can see Jake and Elwood perform festive favorites like “Santa Claus is Coming To Town,” “Blue Christmas,” and more with snow on Delancey Street at the end of each show.  Plus on select Saturday and Sunday nights, Mannheim Steamroller, the biggest selling Christmas artist of all time, will perform!  The show starts at 6 pm on December 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, and 23.

SeaWorld Orlando®

Waves of holiday spirit abound at SeaWorld during the holiday season!  This theme park goes all out for the holidays, with updates holiday shows such as A Sesame Street Christmas, Clyde and Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas, Winter Wonderland on Ice, and Shamu Christmas- Miracles.  Guests can take  a walk through a wintery, watery wonderland and immerse themselves in a sea of holiday trees, take in O Wondrous Night – a show that tells the greatest story never told, with more than 30 carols, based upon the Christmas Story and told through the eyes of a variety of live animals. and end their day with a spectacular evening show with soaring fountains, dazzling lights, and festive fireworks, choreographed to joyous holiday musical favorites.  And no holiday trip to SeaWorld is complete without a a wondrous journey to the North Pole aboard THE POLAR EXPRESS!

Gaylord Palms

Featuring more than 2 million twinkling lights, visits with Santa, holiday music and a 54-foot-tall Christmas tree, Gaylord Palms brings ICE! featuring DreamWorks’ Merry Madagascar and Christmassy DreamWorks Experience to Orlando November 10, 2012 – January 1, 2013.  Merry Madagascar will be brought to life in an interactive world of colorful ice sculptures and two-story tall ice slides carved entirely from TWO MILLION pounds of ice!!  You can also decorate gingerbread cookies with Gingy, become an honorary Ogre and meet the rest of the gang from Shrek! at a fairytale feast fit for a king at ShrekFeast or get your picture taken with Po from KungFu Panda!   And if that isn’t enough, you can join in on a scavenger hunt hosted by Jack Frost and the rest of the guardians at Rise of the Guardians Adventure Scavenger Hunt.

Busch Gardens Tampa

This winter, Busch Gardens will transform into a nighttime holiday wonderland of wintery surprises and all things Christmas. Explore more than 20 all-new Christmas attractions, shows, rides, dining and shopping options and themed areas throughout Christmas Town.  You will have so many options to celebrate the yuletide season –   visit Santa’s House and get a peek inside The Claus Family home at the North Pole, take a ride on the Christmas Town Express train and sing along to traditional holiday songs, join your favorite Sesame Street characters at Sesame Street Season of Fun, check out the penguins, see a living angel statue, or visit the nativity scene.  Visit Candy Lane, Ice Wonder Way, and Jungle Jubilee to see how beautifully the park has been transformed into a winter wonderland.  And finally, you will find  the perfect holiday gift and delicious seasonal treats as you explore Christmas Town Village, with real, frozen snow, quaint cabin shops and an exclusive performance each night by Jars of Clay.
Seems like there are a ton of options to celebrate the season in the Orlando area…wish I was going this year!!

 

Review: Ellen’s Universe of Energy

November 7, 2012 Cheryl 0

Ellen’s Energy Adventure is the title of the show inside Epcot’s Universe of Energy.  It deals with energy, how energy is produced, the history of energy production, and the search for new energy resources, which in and of itself doesn’t sound very exciting – but add in Ellen and a game of Jeopardy! and it really gets interesting!  Check out my article on Mousekejournals.com to get the full scoop!

Disney Cruise Line Itinerary Updates for 2013

November 5, 2012 Cheryl 1
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Great news! Disney Cruise Line® is changing a number of their 2013 sailings from Galveston in order to provide a greater variety of itineraries and ports-to-call to visit than ever before!  Here are the details:

NEW! 7-night Western Caribbean, including Jamaica!

Falmouth, Jamaica is one of the Caribbean’s best-preserved towns!  There you can sample the towns history and culture by taking a horse-and-buggy ride, shopping for arts and crafts, or tasting Jamaica’s signature jerk recipes. Other options include a bamboo raft ride along the Martha Brae River, which offers amazing views of the island’s lush tropical scenery.  And don’t forget about nearby Ocho Rios, where you can climb Dunn’s River Falls.

• 2013 departure dates: Oct. 5, Oct. 19, Nov. 2, Nov. 16 and Nov. 30.
• Ports of call: Falmouth, Jamaica; Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico

NEW! 7-night Bahamas, including Disney’s Castaway Cay

Always a favorite port of call for Guests, Castaway Cay is the place for those seeking adventure, relaxation or quality time with the family.

• 2013 departure dates: Sept. 28, Oct. 12, Oct. 26, Nov. 9, Nov. 23, Dec. 7 and Dec. 14.
• Ports of call: Key West; Nassau, The Bahamas; Disney’s Castaway Cay

Disney Cruise Line is also modifying two 7-night sailings into one 6-night Western Caribbean itinerary and two 4-night getaway trips to provide a few shorter cruise options.

NEW! 6-Night Western Caribbean

You can’t beat the beaches on Grand Cayman and Cozumel – famous for their sand and snorkeling!  Plus 3 relaxing days at sea – perfect!!

• 2013 departure dates: Dec. 21
• Ports of call: Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico, plus three days at sea.

NEW! 4-Night Getaway Sailings

What a relaxing way to celebrate the holidays!!

• 2013 departure dates: Dec. 27 and Dec. 31
• Ports of call: Cozumel, Mexico, plus two days at sea.

The 7-night Bahamian and Western Caribbean sailings are currently open for bookings. The new 4- and 6-night sailings open for new bookings on Nov. 16, 2012.  Contact me today if you are interested in booking any of these fantastic cruises!  All services are free! Even if you’ve already booked you can transfer over and take advantage of my free planning services!

The Walt Disney Company + Lucasfilm = AWESOME!!

October 31, 2012 Cheryl 3
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Big news for Star Wars fans – yesterday, The Walt Disney Company announced an agreement to acquire a “little” company called Lucasfilm Ltd! You know, that  company owned by George Lucas that is known for Star Wars and Indiana Jones?!?  This is huge!!  Under the deal, Disney will now own Lucasfilm,  LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound – so they will own the live action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects, and audio post production for all of all Star Wars related media and products!!  Wow!!!

George Lucas, the Chairman and Chief Executive Office of Lucasfilm said “For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next. It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime”

This is not the first collaboration between the The Walt Disney Company and Lucasfilm.  They have had a long-standing relationship that had previously brought Star Wars into the Walt Disney World® Resort, the Disneyland® Resort, Disneyland® Paris, and Tokyo Disney® Resort. This purchase will not only increase the presence of Star Wars within the Disney Parks, but The Walt Disney Company has already announced the making of Star Wars Episode 7 in which George Lucas will serve as creative consultant!!!   Star Wars Episode 7 will be released in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future.

With the announcement came many social media jokes and questions…will Princess Leia now be a Disney Princess?  Will Jedi Mickey and Minnie find out they are brother and sister?  Will Darth Vader make the monorail announcements now?  And what does this mean in terms of future rides and theme parks – will the rumored Avatar Land be scrapped for another galaxy far, far away?  I guess we will all have to wait and find out!  But for now, just remembering my sons happy dance when I told him the news about the newest Star Wars movie coming out is enough to brighten my day!

Wreck-it Ralph movie review

October 29, 2012 Cheryl 0
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My friend Dana, who runs a site called dragynally.com, was lucky enough to get a preview of the new Disney® film Wreck-it Ralph, and she shared her thoughts on the film with me.

  1. Wreck-It Ralph is a great family movie! If I had to give it a PG rating I’d say PG-7, but I think all ages will enjoy it. There were some jokes that were a little off-color but nothing bad and most of it would go over a little kid’s head.
  2. If you love video games you will laugh even harder! There are some great classic video game cameos and the games that were created for the movie are a nod to games like Donkey Kong, Mario Kart, and Call of Duty.
  3. If you like candy, Sugar Rush will make you laugh hysterically! A big chunk of the movie is spent in the land of the Sugar Rush game. And there are puns. Lot’s of them. Every candy or sweet snack you can think of makes a guest appearance.
  4. The previews did not ruin this movie. You know how most movies have previews that tell you the whole story? Wreck-It Ralph’s previews barely tell you half the story. There is so so much more!
  5. The theme of the movie is accepting yourself. I think we can all embrace that.
  6. Ralph may be the main character, but this is the story of several characters. Vanellope, Felix, and Sgt. Calhoun all have a story to tell.
  7. The voice acting is great! they did a good job with the cast and every voice sounds true to the part. My personal favorite being Sgt. Calhoun and Felix.
  8. Wreck-It Ralph has a story for everyone. It’s action adventure, love, buddy comedy and so so much more! One reader asked if it was skewed more for guys or dolls… I said “yes”. It is an incredible balance of tough and gentle, sweet and kick butt. In fact some of the tougher elements come from female characters.
  9. The story of Wreck-It Ralph is incredible touching. I am not afraid to tell you I was almost in tear at the end. Happy tears. It was a feel good movie if there ever was one. You feel really good for watching it and the themes and messages are awesome.
Sounds like another Disney® classic!  I can’t wait to take the family next weekend.  Thanks again to Dana for sharing this review.  Please check out her site at dragynally.com or on her Facebook site and let her know I sent you!  Wreck-it Ralph opens in 2 and 3D November 2, 2012 and stars John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, and Jane Lynch.

Surprising your kids with a trip to Disney

October 27, 2012 Cheryl 3

Surprising your kids with a trip to Disney is awesome, but coming up with how to do the big reveal can be tricky.  Do your kids like surprises?  If they have never been before are they going to understand how exciting it is?  Here are some creative ways to let your kids know that they will soon be in the most magical place on earth!

 

 

Scavenger Hunt

We love to do scavenger hunts – we have one of those Pirate Treasure games where you have to find the clues and then eventually get the prize.  You could let one up around your house with Disney-esque clues such as “Look out for the ticktock Crocodile” (your alarm clock), “It is Snow White’s least favorite fruit” (Apple), “Where would you find Cinderella’s favorite footwear?” (closet/shoe rack), “What Rapunzel needs for her hair” (hair brush), “101 Dalmatians would sleep here” (dog’s bed), or “Where Woody and Buzz hang out” (play room).  Then the last one is “Where Mickey lives” and tell them they are going to Disney World!

Eeeek it’s a Mouse!

If your kids are a little older, purchase a Mickey Mouse plush at your local Disney Store and hide it in the pantry or laundry room with a big note that says “You are going to Disney World”.  When your kids come down for breakfast start running around and telling them that you saw a mouse and you need their help.  Have them run all over looking for where it went, then you run into the pantry and scream.  When they come to help you show them the mouse you found!

Time to Eat

If you have been to Disney before, make their favorite meal that they ate there.  If not, make some Mickey shaped food (pretzels, cheese, pancakes, sandwich or cookies).  Maybe wear a Disney t-shirt or apron, and then casually mention about how the food reminds you of something.  When they mention Disney say something like “maybe we should go there tomorrow!”

Wake up sleepy head

Wake your kids up with the surprise – sing “It’s a Small World” or the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme song, fill their room with Mickey Shaped Balloons, have the dog come in and lick their face with a note attached that they are going to Disney, or hang a sign on the bathroom mirror or even write it in shaving cream.

It’s for you…

Have your neighbor (or the UPS guy) drop off a package for your child, and when they open it a balloon comes out with a note that says they are going to Disney.  Or have a gift basket delivered filled with all sorts of items that they will need for their trip (Mickey Ears, sunscreen, new towel, lanyard, Mickey plush, autograph book).

Puzzled

Order a picture puzzle from Shutterfly and have your child put the pieces together to do the big reveal.  You can get really creative on how they get the pieces – you can hide them around the house and use the scavenger hunt idea to find them, you can mail the pieces to your kids over a few days and then have them work together to put the pieces together, you can have friends bring them as gifts for a birthday or Christmas, or have their teacher send home a note with them in there…the possibilities are endless.

Bait and Switch

Tell your kids that they are going somewhere else, like grandma’s while mom and dad go away or even another (less exciting) vacation destination and then surprise them at the last minute.  Or if you want to be kind of sneaky, tell them you got their report cards and they are going to summer school…then pull out the report card envelope and have them take a look inside where instead is a note saying that you are going to Disney World!

Turn down that music

When they come home from school have a different Disney song or movie or TV show playing on each TV or iPod in the house.  As they go from room to room they will get the hint, and then have a big sign in the last room announcing the trip.

Breaking News

If you have the technical skills, you can create your own Breaking News Story!  Sit your family down for a Disney Movie Night, and a few minutes into it have it interrupted with a late breaking news story about your family going to Disney!

Getting on an jet plane

I have a friend who booked their flight to Orlando so they would have to leave at the same time the kids normally left for school.  So she got them up the regular time, had them get ready, and eat breakfast.  Then as she and her husband were rushing them out the door to get the bus instead of her normal “don’t forget your backpack” statement, she said “don’t forget your airplane tickets and park passes cause you are going to Disney World today!!”

These are some of my ideas…what are yours?  Have you ever surprised anyone with a trip to Disney? If so, I hope your kids were this excited!

Where is the best spot to watch Wishes®?

October 23, 2012 Cheryl 2
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Those of you who know me, or follow this blog, you know that I love fireworks!  At home, I have been known to drive around looking for fireworks, and then stop on the side of the road to watch the show. I plan all of my Disney dining reservations based on the pyrotechnics display I want to see that night…and camp out an hour before the show on Main Street with my ice cream cone in hand waiting like a little kid, giddy with excitement.  So this summer during our vacation at Walt Disney World®, I decided to conduct a little experiment to see where the best spot would be to watch Wishes®!  Here were the contenders: Main Street U.S.A. by the flagpole, the beach at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, the viewing deck at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and near the marina the Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.  I am sure that there are tons of other viewing areas, but unfortunately there were not enough vacation nights to see them all.  Thankfully there is always next time!!  Here are the results of my not-so-scientific-but-oh-so-fun experiment!

Main Street U.S.A.

It is no secret that I love pretty much everything about Main Street – from the architecture, to the popcorn smell, to the shops, the food, the parades, and of course the fireworks.  This to me is the quintessential firework viewing spot…but there is a downside – the crowds.  You have to fight for your spot, and then possibly even have to fight to hold onto your spot.  Parents lift their kids up onto their shoulders and block your view.  People lean over to get a picture and block you view.  People show up at the last minute and stand right in front of you and block your view.  You get the idea -there are a lot of people!  You will also have to deal with all of those same people after the show – on your way back to your hotel.  However, crowds’ aside, watching the colors explode directly over the castle has got to be the best view that there is.  Plus you get to see any castle pre-shows there happen to be, and you don’t miss out on the evening parades.  It is a classic viewing spot, and, with the exception of everyone else enjoying the show with you, you really can’t go wrong if you are on Main Street U.S.A.

Beach at the Polynesian

The beach at the Polynesian Resort is incredibly relaxing, relatively empty (except on holidays), gives the kids something to do while waiting, the Wishes® music is piped in, and there are even spots to grab an adult beverage to enjoy with the show.   Downsides – mosquitoes, sandy shoes and clothes, the distance and angle of the fireworks show, and transportation.  As the Polynesian Resort is located across the lake from the Magic Kingdom, and furthest away from the park, the fireworks do not seem as huge as they do from Main Street.  And, they are not situated directly over the castle – they seem to be going off slightly to the left of it.  That being said, the view of the fireworks being reflected on the water is breathtaking.  Transportation can also be an issue, depending where you are staying.  If you parked at the Transportation and Ticket Center, then all you need to do is walk over and grab a tram and you are ahead of the crowds – so that is a good thing!  If, however, you are staying on property and need to grab a bus back to your hotel, you will need to take either the boat or the monorail back to the Magic Kingdom, and grab transportation there.  You will probably get stuck in the mass exodus, and have to wait for a while to get to your room.

 

Viewing deck at the Contemporary


There are actually two viewing decks at the Contemporary Resort, but one of them is located off of the California Grill, and you need to have a reservation to get onto the elevator to see the show from there.  The deck I am talking about is off of the main floor.  The entrance is located behind the gift shops the opposite side of the floor from Chef Mickey’s.   From there you can go up the stairs if you want to get a higher view (J went up there to get the pictures), or sit at one of the benches and wait for the show to start.  Upsides to watching the show here – they pipe in the Wishes® music, it isn’t crowded, you are almost over the castle so it offers a very unique view (the fireworks are to the right of the castle this time), and they offer seating.  Downsides – the monorails do not stop just because there are fireworks going on so they can be distracting, the hotel is very close to the parking lot and if any car alarms are set off by the fireworks (as they were that night) it can be very distracting, again the fireworks are not directly over the castle, and transportation can be an issue.  The Contemporary is within walking distance of the bus depot at the Magic Kingdom; however, if you need to get to the Ticket and Transportation Center you will have to ride the Monorail with the rest of the exiting crowd.

Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

There are plenty of viewing spots at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, but we chose to stake out ours near the marina at the end of the wing closest to the Magic Kingdom.  It was just us, and one other family watching the show, which made it pretty special – like the show was just for us.  That being said, there was no music playing (maybe there is on the boat launch?) so the show didn’t seem as emotional as it is with the music.  The angle of the fireworks seemed off as well – very far to the left of the castle.  Again, not a big deal to most, but to me, I like to see the fireworks directly over the castle.  The same transportation issues exist as well, which are compounded if you take the monorail, as you will be competing with everyone leaving the Magic Kingdom that were at the first stop.

Final Conclusion

Anywhere you see Wishes® is fantastic, but if it were up to me, I would either pick Main Street if I were already in the park (unless it was a holiday, then even for me the crowds are too much!) or the beach at the Polynesian.  There is just something so relaxing about it and just the thought of watching the fireworks while sitting on the beach that makes me happy.  So now its time for you to weigh in – where is your favorite spot to watch Wishes®?

Tips for traveling to Walt Disney World with babies or toddlers

October 18, 2012 Cheryl 4

Thanks to fantastic Baby Care Centers, and attractions geared for little tikes, the Walt Disney World Resort® makes it easier than ever to visit with a baby or toddler.  Plus, anyone under the age of 3 does not need an admission ticket, so that make a Disney trip even more affordable.  Listed below are some travel tips and suggestions for making baby’s first visit a magical and memorable one!

 

Quick Travel Tips 

  • When flying with an infant or child under the age of 2, consider Southwest Airlines. If a seat is open, they will allow you to take the extra seat for your child absolutely free. Not to mention that bags fly free!
  • If flying with a toddler or young child, consider using the CARES restraint system. It keeps your child safely and legally secured in their seat onboard the aircraft without having to lug around a big car seat.
  • If flying, purchase Gate Check bags to help protect your stroller and car seat. They fold easily into their own zipper pockets for easy storage and help protect your items from grease and dirt when gate checked.
  • If you are driving, try to leave at bedtime or nap time.  Plan on making stops every few hours, and add an additional nights stay on the way down and the way back.
  • For babies eating solid foods, consider purchasing a Boon brand spoon. It allows you to scoop baby food into the spoon and simply squeeze to dispense for baby. It makes feeding baby on the plane or in the car that much easier.
  • The change in cabin pressure on flights can hurt little ears. Make sure baby has a pacifier or bottle at take-off and landing. Or if they are on solids, feed baby or toddler puffs or cereal, water, or any snack of your choice during take-off and landing.
  • For babies, grab small toys that can be tied together with one piece of ribbon or string. That way when baby drops the toys, they are all tethered together and are easy to retrieve.
  • For toddlers, pack a craft box to keep them happy on the flight or car ride to Disney. Crayons, paper, stickers, etc… can make all the difference.  A Disney movie on your iPad is also a good way to pass the time.  Educational phone apps are also good.
  • If taking your own stroller, I do not recommend umbrella strollers. In my experience, they do not provide enough sun protection or back support for a full day at the Disney parks. Bring your large or jogging stroller for plenty of shade, comfort, and storage space. Or rent from Disney.

While in the Parks

The great stroller debate – do I use mine or rent one from Disney?

Either option is great. Disney’s strollers are roomy, provide shade, turn on a dime, and have some storage. However, they will add to the cost of your vacation at $15 per single or $31 per double each day, and they are not as comfortable as others. For guests of the WDW Resort hotels, Length-of-Stay stroller rentals are available for a few dollars less. But this daily rental fee can significantly add up. By renting at Disney and not bringing your own, you free up your car if driving, and you do not have to worry about your stroller becoming possibly damaged on the airplane if flying.  There are also stroller rental companies in the Orlando area that will drop off and pick up the stroller right from your hotel.

Personally, we like to bring our own stroller from home. It is familiar, it has plenty of shade and storage, and the drink cups come in very handy for mom and dad. Having our own stroller at the airport makes getting through security and from gate to gate much easier as well. And the most important feature: it saves us a lot of money. Our stroller is also much easier to pick out in sea of Disney strollers when we are coming out of an attraction and looking for ours. My son is now 6 and we still bring the stroller – mostly to push our stuff (drinks, snacks, camera gear) around – just in case he gets tired.

Regardless of which stroller you decide to use, be sure to pack a rain cover or extra rain poncho to cover your stroller before each ride or show. Florida rain showers come unexpectedly and come down hard like a monsoon. And you don’t want to return to a soaking wet stroller. Netting covers are also very helpful to ward off Florida bugs. Also note, if you are staying on property and utilizing Disney transportation, all strollers need to be folded on buses and trams.

Need a double?

There are lots of fabulous double strollers out there. However, we have seen a constant trend at Disney parks with parents of multiple children. The 2012 City Mini Double Stroller is a huge favorite. It fits through doorways, is more compact, folds in a snap with one hand, has two separate sunshades, supportive and comfy seats and is a breeze to push through the parks.

Take advantage of Disney’s Baby Care Centers, located inside each park

Each of the four Walt Disney World Parks has a Baby Care Center. Check your park map for the location. They are typically located right next to first aid. These Centers are amazing! They allow you to nurse your baby privately in comfortable nursing rooms, change baby, feed baby with every kitchen gizmo or tool you might need (including microwaves and bottle warmers), a store to purchase baby basics, a play room for toddlers and older children, complete with Disney cartoons playing, and more. And most importantly, on hot days, this is a cool, comfortable, and quiet refuge for you and your family. The Studios’ Baby Care Center is the smallest of the four, but still has everything you need.

Unfortunately, there are no Baby Care Centers located at Downtown Disney. If you need a quiet, private spot to nurse, bottle feed or soothe a tired little one, I, along with Cast Members, recommend one of the fitting rooms inside the World of Disney store. I personally recommend the fitting room inside the men’s wear area. It is used less often than the women’s or kids section so you won’t have a line forming outside. The fitting rooms there are large enough to wheel your stroller in and you have a large bench to sit on as well. So it works out perfectly.

Attraction Recommendations for children under 36 months old

This, of course, like any of my other recommendations, is subject to your good judgment. No one knows your child better than you. These rides are gentle and allow parents to hold their baby on their lap during the ride. Entertainment recommendations are also listed.

Magic Kingdom

It’s a Small World

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station

Prince Charming Regal Carrousel

The Little Mermaid Ride

Magic Carpet Rides

Country Bear Jamboree

Jungle Cruise

Walt Disney World Railroad

Winnie the Pooh

Carousel of Progress

Tomorrowland Speedway

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade (find shade)

Dream Along with Mickey (no shade available)

Move it! Shake it! Celebrate it! Street Party (find shade)

Character Meet and Greets

* Note: loud fireworks frighten most babies. However, some older babies love them! So use your discretion for the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular Show – if they are awake that long.  If you are staying (or dining) at one of the resorts around the Seven Seas Lagoon, the nightly fireworks are also visible, and they pipe in the music as well.  I like watching them from the beach at the Polynesian the best. Relaxing and it gives toddlers something to play in!

EPCOT

Journey into Imagination with Figment

Spaceship Earth (this is dark, but not scary)

Living with the Land

Gran Fiesta Tour

The Seas with Nemo & Friends

Sergio the Italian Clown Juggler (Italy Pavilion)

Turtle Talk with Crush

Voices of Liberty (just sit towards the back, as they sing loudly)

Character Meet and Greets

* Note: loud fireworks frighten most babies. However, some older babies love them! So use your discretion for the Illuminations – if they are awake that long.

Hollywood Studios

Disney Jr.  Live on Stage

Toy Story Mania  – for toddlers and older children

Honey I Shrunk The Kids Movie Set – for toddlers

The American Idol Experience

Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage

Disney Channel Rocks / Parades (find shade near the Sorcerer’s hat)

Character Meet and Greets

Animal Kingdom

Affection Section

Discovery Island Trails

Kilimanjaro Safari (nap time and they won’t go down? This should do the trick!)

The Boneyard – for toddlers and older children

Camp Minnie-Mickey Greeting Trails and other Character Meet and Greets

TriceraTop Spin

Festival of the Lion King

Finding Nemo – The Musical

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade (Avoid Africa area – no shade and too crowded)

Child Swap Pass: Don’t forget about the Child Swap Passes, offered at select Disney attractions. These swap passes allow parents to take turns riding their favorite non-baby rides with little to not wait for the 2nd rider. Ask a Cast Member outside each attraction for details.

Dining with Baby:

Helpful things to bring with you into the parks:

  • Travel placemat
  • Plastic bib with pocket (for smaller babies: bottle, formula, etc…)
  • Snack cup/munchies to keep baby happy until their meal is ready
  • Small toy that will keep them happy while waiting
  • Lots of wipes and your camera to capture all of those great messy eater photos!
  • Most Disney buffets will allow children under 3 to just eat from mom and dad’s plate, so that is a great money saver.

How many diapers should I bring each day?

Be prepared! Disney sells diapers in their gift shops and in some Baby Care Centers, but typically only newborn and size 1s or 2s. You can sometimes find pull-ups for older children. We always packed our diaper bag with 4-5 diapers for the day and stash 1-2 more into the stroller. You don’t want to have to interrupt your day to go purchase more off property, especially if you are staying on Disney property and have no outside transportation. You never know when baby will decide to go all day long, or if the tabs on the pair you have break. So just be prepared with as many as you can comfortably travel with. Luckily, they are compact and lightweight!

Must Haves for Baby or Toddler:

Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses (it’s really bright in Florida), rain shield, snacks, Sippy cup always filled with water or juice to stay hydrated, an extra set of clothes, and diapers with wipes. Also, it is a good idea to bring a few basic medications with you (Tylenol, Orajel, etc…) just in case. I also loved our “No Throw” strap that loops onto our stroller. It keeps baby from tossing out the Sippy cup or favorite new Disney plush! Halo Brand Technical Comfort onesies are a lifesaver in the summer. They keep baby cool and comfortable all day long. A battery-operated fan that you can attach to your stroller is a good idea too.