Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday Thirteen: The bare necessities...

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?

post signature

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.

39 comments:

Miss Anne said...

I loved reading about your ventures throught Disneyland!

I've never been there, and hope to someday go! What a fun place!

You have a lovely family and great smiles all around!

:) xo

Blogging Mama said...

How did you know we are going to Disney in Feb?? This is a perfect post! And my dd is standing here blowing kisses at the computer and I'm like huh? She's kissing your pic of Mickey (the man in her and my book)!
We got the dining plan and can't wait to use it. Love the ketchup thing! We'll be doing the Disney World park and Nassau cruise combo. Just two months to go! The kids find out for Christmas and I can't tell you how many times it's almost slipped since we booked in Sept!

We were last at Disney Paris last October. Disneyland when I was 15 and I've never been to Disney World - can hardly wait though! Favorite ride is probably Utopia cause I love how excited my Boo gets to drive (even thought the line is sooooo long) at least it's a long 'ride' to counter balance it. Other than that, Pirates of the Caribbean is cool and I am a sucker for Small World annoying as it is. Thunder Mountain Railroad and Matterhorn and Star Tours and I could go on and on...

Cairo Typ0 said...

I've never been to Disney World. Heck until i was 26 i had never been to any Disney! When Hubby took me to Disneyland i was a freak: i attacked all the characters adn posed for photos and hugged them.

Lynette said...

Great blog. Thanks. Don't have to go now that I have read this. Feel like I have already been. No I have not been and never had the desire. I do not do large crowds. And am embarrassed at rides when I am so large I have to sit alone and still be squeezed into for the locking bar. Nope not for me.

Rhea said...

I've only been to Disney once, when I was younger. I've never taken my kids. I'm a bad, bad mom.

I LOVE the shirts you guys made. And thanks for all the tips, because one day, I will take my children.

(My parents took my older son a few years back)

Keeper of the Skies Wife said...

Love the t-shirts!!

The pictures are worth $120!!!
We will have to try that restaurant....my hubby loves ketchup!!! Too funny!

Heather said...

This is a great post! Especially for Kori!

I have only been to Disney twice; once when I was 11, and once when I was 28, with two little ones in tow.

We want to go in 2009, and take Gabe this time. Elijah and Isabel were only 3 and 2 the last time, so they don't even remember it.

I will probably barrage you with questions when we decide to go. My sis, Michelle, is a Disney expert as well. She's been there many times.

I love the photo CD idea! That's a steal!

Christina said...

I like you have been to Disney more then I can count! My daughter at 9 and 10 have been a dozen time between world and land in California and when we atationed overseas we got the chance to go to Dineyland Paris. Our fav ride seems to be Star Tours, as cheesy as it is we ride it A LOT!

Loralynn said...

I really enjoyed reading your post! I can't wait to go back to Disney World. We were there in 2000 & 2005 and will go again in 2010. I am so looking forward to it!

Brandy said...

I haven't been since my senior year in high school. Stevie wants to go but I have been wavering...

I love all the pictures and if we decide to go I'm using each and every one of your tips!

Jen E @ mommablogsalot said...

Awesome tips! I'm going to have to bookmark this!

Lula! said...

I could barely make it past the picture of Kathy holding you on a leash.

Oh my head. Best picture EVER!

Journeywoman said...

It's been a very long time and will be even longer before we think of going to Disney. But still, great list and good tips.

Mama Dawg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mama Dawg said...

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.....I LOVE DISNEY WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Your advice is so spot on. I used to do a weekly posts about Disney advice.

We last went in 2007 and our next trip is scheduled for 2009. I want to go in May, but to save money, we may go in September to take advantage of the free dining. If they do it next year. With the economy the way it is, they may not (no, that's not a rumor, just speculation on my part).

I lived in the Orlando area for 10 years and we went all the time. I actually worked there for 10 months in 1995 and LOVED EVERY MINUTE! I soooo want to go back and be a CM again.

Sigh......I miss Disney. Less than 5 months til we may go again.

Thank goodness for high IRS tax returns. Otherwise, we wouldn't be able to go.

Susan said...

Disney is my very, most favoritest, place on Earth. I have been about 18 times (the most recent of which was a whopping 7 years ago!!!) I am in the process of trying to convince hubby that 20 months old is NOT too young for our daughter's first trip there (knowing Jan/Feb timeframe is a good time to go). Have loads of fun!!!

Hot Tub Lizzy said...

When was the last time you were at Disney? DisneyLand a year and a half ago.

What is your favorite ride? - Hmmm... Pirates of the Carribean.

Favorite thing to do? Watch The Ladies faces as they smile and laugh and wonder.

Favorite park? Epcot

LadyStyx said...

Never been to Disney World. Have always wanted to go though. Went to Disney Land when I was 3 or 4 though. Only way I know is that my folks have pix of it. I seem to keep remembering the Dumbo ride too...

Im hoping hubby will take me sometime this coming year. I'd really like to go to the Animal Kingdom for sure. I suspect it's gonna be really expensive though.

~Michelle~ said...

For your readers:

mouseplanet.com

is also a good resource for park info - including current attraction closings posted every Monday for both Disneyland & WDW. They always have the scoop!

And early December is the perfect time to go to WDW - did that a couple of years ago, the crowds were so light!

Elena said...

I've only been to DisneyLand and that was when I was 20. We've never taken our kids and they are getting to the age where we would really like to. We've got a sticker chart up to help us remember to read from the scriptures. When our chart is full we've promised a trip to Disney. (For some reason, even with that incentive we still can't manage to do our reading.) I think we've been working on it for almost 2 years now. How pathetic! Loved these tips, I'm coming back to this post when our trip actually happens.

Aubrey said...

When I was 13, my aunt and uncle took me to Disney. She had told me a story of when I was younger, she promised to take me someday...and she never forgot. It was a wonderful experience. I can't wait to take my kiddos!

Rachel Ann said...

OMG!!!

I **HEART** Disney. I have been to both parks, but go more frequently to Disney Land as I live in WA State. I have also been on the Disney Cruise which is utterly fabulous!

My BFF and I tend to take vacations the week of Thanksgiving and find that the parks are actually pretty good during that holiday.

I love Tower of Terror...Space Mountain...and, well all the rides really (with the exception of the Matterhorn...their seats are just too small!).

I'm thinking I need to go back again....thanks for the lovely post...love your shirts and all the pics!

Carrie said...

What an awesome post! Thanks for all the good tips!

I have only been to Disneyland once, in 1985 for their 50th year celebration with my entire family. I went to Epcot at Disneyworld in 1995 with my college choir.

We're going to wait to take the kids until they're at least old enough to remember, so we won't be going for quite a few years. Baby #2 probably won't even be conceived for at least another year! So we will go in maybe 5-7 years, I suppose!

KimmyJ said...

I have NEVER been to Disney and these pics make me want to go right now, this minute! I wonder if it is too late to ask Santa for tickets?

ChicagoLady said...

I've never been to Disney World, but have been to Disneyland several times over the years. I definitely want to go to World one of these days. It sounds like a lot of fun!

Nissa said...

And you say you're not crafty! Ha! Scrapbook autograph books AND Mickey shirts? I'd say that's pretty crafty, Kat!

Those are some great tips. I've never been to DisneyWorld. DisneyLand several times, cuz I'm a California girl(but last time was years and years and years ago!). I'd love to take the kids, though.

Shannon said...

I've been to Disney World three times... once with my family when I was in 5th grade, then the very next year I went for my 6th grade class trip. And then Shane and I took our girls in Oct 2007... we all can't wait to go back! I'd like to go maybe next year and make it a whole family gathering with Shane's mom, his two brothers and their families. It would be 14 people in all.

My favorite park is the Magic Kingdom... hands down. I could've skipped MGM when we went last year. The only thing I liked about MGM was Tower of Terror. Well, that and the parade was pretty good.

We bought a Disney guide book but I can't remember the author...
And I did find allears and disboards... great sites!


Oh, and I have a great pic of Shane wearing those bug glasses! HA!

sassy stephanie said...

How very cool to be so close and go so often.

I have not been since I was 13. I'm waiting for my youngest to get a few years older to make the trip.

I love the spiral shirts. I have never seen those.

Swirl Girl said...

great t-shirts!!


I love Disney...we went last Father's Day...

-remember the Eastern Airlines (free ) ride and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea? Those were my favorites! Love Jungle Cruise too!

Aleta said...

Loved, Loved, Loved this post! I just came back from Disney and plan on posting about it. I already put the pictures up on my Picasa site. I had a blast at the Soaring ride and loved riding the Segway! We spent 7 days in Disney and I loved every minute. We stayed at the parks 10-12 hours each day. How cool that you were able to spend special time after the parks closed with family!

Brian and Staci said...

We HEART Disney too! As a matter of fact...Connor just asked the other day, "mommy, we haven't been to Disney World this year yet!?" WHAT! This child is COMPLETELY spoiled! He's been 4 times (and he's six!) RIDICULOUS! Let's see...the last time we were there was 2006. HEY, maybe we were there at the same time?! Think it was May though?? We love the Buzz Lightyear ride :) Hmmm, fav park...probably Magic Kingdom? My Sooners are playing in Orlando ya know...but with building this new house and all...I think we are gonna cheer from home and miss out on Disney :( SIGH

Kristy said...

I went when I was 17 for my Senior Year thingie. The whole Senior class attended, well if they could afford it. It was a blast. I've been wanting to take the kids, but with 4 of this its going to be expensive.

Susie said...

I was 10...a long time ago:-)

Nicholas said...

We live 90 minutes away and I have never been!

I have been to the original Disneyland in LA, and I loved that!

Jen said...

I can't wait to take me kids to Disney. SO MUCH FUN!!!

Joye said...

I had no idea you were a Disney expert. I remember you joking about those homemade Disney shirts though hehehe I have not been yet. waiting to have a kid to take :)

jennifersusan said...

way cute shirts!!! I haven't been to Disney since 1991! I went with my Girl Scout troop a few weeks before the start of my senior year of highschool. My sister had a baby while I was there and now that baby is a senior in highschool. My oldest went with his father for his birthday a few years ago and liked it, and the rest of the kids really wanna go. hopefully we'll make it sooner or later. :)

Michelle said...

Oh how fun! I so should have talked to youbefore we went to Disney for the first time with the wee ones in October. One other piece of advice (at least from me): don't try to do parks day after day after day after day after day -- plan some downtime in there!

I had no idea about the pins before I got there, but was NOT about to buy them while there. That may be an eBay thing for the next time or two we go.

And I refused to wait in line for the autographs. It was looooong, and the wee ones don't wait in lines well (especially Mr Aspergers Man) -- yes, we knew about the special needs pass thankfully! I don't remember that from when I was growing up. I remember the characters wandering the parks without bodyguards just talking to kids and hugging them and hanging out for pictures -- none of this here for forty-five minutes from X to Y thing. But that's just how I remember it :)

And I LOVE those shirts. I'm making that a birthday craft for next year (not necessarily for Mickey but just for fun). Way cool idea! Maybe I can use a hairdryer to get them to dry faster -- at least the flour part.

Oh and AVOID THE T. REX CAFE! I have a post yet coming on that one :)

Gina said...

We were there in October and I am already pining for anopther trip. It is my very favorite place to be.