Guess what? Today I am in two places. I am guest blogging over at Angie's Spot. About the complete opposite of Disney World. I am there because Angie is IN Disney World right now. So...since I am talking about the opposite of Disney there. I thought we might need a little yin to my yang. A little balance. So...we'll talk about Disney over here. Because I *heart* Disney.I sometimes think that I grew up at Disney World. I was born right outside of Orlando. And my uncle worked at the park. He sold popcorn on Main Street. Back in the day. They closed the park sometimes in the evenings for friends and family of employees. We went often. And I don't think we paid to get into the world until we made a trip there when I was 16. And all our connections had moved on.
We first took the girls in September of 2006. And we traded in our tickets for an annual pass. So, over the course of the next calendar year. We spent a whopping 24 days in the parks. And I thought I might share some of our insights with you.
1. Do your research. Before we went. I found some amazing sites. Places like Allears. Which has in depth information on the parks. On the resorts. On how to deal with special needs. Or you can read personal stories over at the disboards. You can read opinions on resorts. Trip reports. And see an entire thread dedicated to all the food you can eat at the World. But one of the easiest things you can do is pick up the Unofficial Guide to Disney World by Bob Sehlinger.
2. Use fast pass. With the fast pass system...if you think that the wait is too long for a ride, simply get a ticket with a timed return. Go do something else. Ride something with a shorter line. Shop. Eat lunch. Potty break. And then return at the appointed time for a minimal wait. It's a great system. There's no charge. It's available to everyone. But for some reason. Not everyone uses it.
3. Use photo pass photographers. There are uniformed photographers everywhere. They will give you a card with a bar code. And take your picture. They'll even take ones with your camera. Everytime you see one of those photographers, have them take your picture and scan your card. When you get home, you can go online and look at all the pictures. You can order individual ones. Or do what I did...I got all 237 of them burned to a CD for $120. Here are a couple of the pictures from my cd:4. And take your own photos. Of silly things. Like pictures of your whole family wearing 3-D glasses. There is one 3-D show at each of the parks. Here we are at Mickey's Philharmagic.And at It's Tough to be a Bug.And at the Muppet Show. I think the only one we missed was Honey I shrunk the audience.
Or have someone take a picture of you. Pretending you are being attacked by monsters at the Sci-Fi drive in.
And when you are not being silly. Disney is really a beautiful park. With fountains. And lots of details.
5. Get autographs. One of the girls' favorite things to do was to get character autographs.We had a special Disney autograph book. And I covered some of the pages with my own scrapbook paper. After we got home, we scanned the autographs. Shrank them down. And then made really cool books for each of the girls - with their picture and autographs together.
6. Buy ponchos ahead of time. They are about $8 each in the park. Stock up at Tar-jay before you leave. Can't beat 99cents each instead.
7. Pin Trading and Penny Presses. Believe it or not. These are two rather inexpensive things that you can do at the parks. There are hundreds of penny press machines in the world. And if you do a little prep work...you'll be all set. Get one of those m&m plastic tubes. And layer your coins in there. Layer two quarters. And then a penny. Fill the tube. And you'll be all set when you find a machine. Disney sells penny display books for about $6.
Pin trading can be an expensive venture. But. If your kids are like mine. It does not have to be. I bought some pins on ebay before we went. And divided them between the girls. Don't spend a lot. But make sure that they are Disney pins. It doesn't matter what they are, because the whole point is to trade them. My girls would trade with every cast member that they saw. They might even trade the pin they just got from the last person. And when we got back to the room at night, they would look over their pins to see if there were any that they wanted to keep - and those we'd leave in the room. They had a lot of fun with it. And struck up conversations with lots of people over what kinds of pins they had on their lanyards.
8. Make reservations. If you are doing any dining that is not fast food like. You must have a reservation. You can make your reservations 90 days out. And for a lot of places. You MUST make those reservations if you want to get in. And I highly recommend the Whispering Canyon cafe at the Wilderness Lodge. Where. If you want some katsup. You get all the katsup.
9. Speaking of food. Did you know that you can bring food into the parks? Not a cooler or anything. But you can bring bottles of water. Snacks. And the prices at Disney for food. Well...they are not horrible. They are about what you might expect. Except that the food there is rather good. And you get a lot of it. Which makes it easy to share a meal. And. If it's in your budget...add the Disney dining plan. If it's not in your budget. Go in September...when the plan is often added for FREE. We went two Septembers in a row. And did not pay for food the entire time we were there.
10. Make t-shirts. Here we all are in the t-shirts that I made. Shocking isn't it? I did a craft. And even more shocking. I am going to tell you how to do it.
You need a cotton t-shirt -- washed and dried without softner or a dryer sheet. Put a piece of cardboard in the shirt (so that the paint and flour mixture does not bleed through).
Combine water and flour to the consistency of mustard and put into a squeeze bottle. Squeeze the mixture onto the t-shirt in a spiral pattern -- making a Mickey head and ears (and be sure that you place the ears in the appropriate spot -- meaning so that they are "high" -- and do not create "spotlights" on your chest! ). Let it dry overnight.
Color your Mickey -- you can use either spray fabric paint -- or you can paint with a paintbrush (which is what I did). Let this dry overnight.
The next day, peel off the dried flour mixture -- and voila -- spiral Mickey's!11. Don't forget the little shows. There is so much to see and do at Disney...that's it's really easy to over look the small things. One of our favorite things to do is to see Miyuki the candy artist. She has a show in the afternoon at the Japan pavilion in Epcot. She starts out with a ball of "dough" that she can shape into practically any animal that you desire. She usually picks quiet, respectful children to request an animal.12. Extra magic hours. Avoid them. If you are staying on site, you have the priviledge of extra hours at the parks. A park might open an hour early. Another might stay open an hour late. Those parks are the busiest of the day. Go elsewhere. Stay away from the crowd. And get around much quicker. And easier.
13. Don't tell anyone if your child loses a tooth in the world. Madalyn lost hers at MGM. In the store at the exit of Star Tours. Where a castmember promptly told her that the tooth fairy doesn't work Disney World. It's Tinkerbelle's camp. And that she always leaves $25.So...what about you? When was the last time you were at Disney? What is your favorite ride? Favorite thing to do? Favorite park? If you haven't been...do you want to go?
Theme song: Elton John - Can you Feel the Love Tonight from "The Lion King." Hey. It goes with my post over at Angie's too. And while I am spreading the love. Did you enter to win the prizes? Only two more days to enter.