Getting Ready For Your Walt Disney World Vacation…MagicBands

magic 5 About a month out from your Walt Disney World vacation, you will receive a special little present in the mail: MagicBands. These are the greatest things Disney has given us since Dole Whips, and I’d like to share with you not only why they are awesome, but some tips for stress free use.

Peel off the black part to make it a kids sized band

Peel off the black part to make it a kids sized band

Right away I was super impressed with the bands. You can choose from seven colors (red, yellow, green, grey, blue, pink, orange), from your My Disney Experience account after you have a Disney reservation. The bands have your name inscribed on them in case you have a large party with duplicate colors. The bands also arrive as one size fits all, but have been creatively designed to magically turn into a kids size band by removing part of the strap. The bands are lightweight, waterproof, and can be easily taken off if you don’t feel like sleeping with it on.

Why Is The MagicBand So Magical?

Your name is printed on the inside to keep every in your party straight.

Your name is printed on the inside to keep every in your party straight.

Disney has pretty much done away with the paper ticket and has phased out paper fastpasses. Everything is now linked to your band.

Your MagicBand:
1. Will open your hotel room.
2. Is your ticket into the parks.
3. Is your fastpass+ ticket onto a ride.
4. Can be linked to your photopass account.
5. Can be linked to you credit card to pay for meals and souvenirs.
6. Allow you access into certain areas around your hotel (i.e. Stormalong Bay pool).

MagicBands let you toss that fanny pack away.

MagicBands let you toss that fanny pack away.

You can just about go to the parks wallet free if you’d like. You may even feel lighter or opt to leave your fanny pack at home. I especially appreciate the convenience of everything rolled into one because I have forgotten my ticket in the past. I also had to put up with my husband asking “do we need our tickets for this?” obnoxiously every time we left our hotel room during our first Disney trip together. MagicBand made it easier to manage his negative behavior, because I could see it on his wrist and could ignore him when appropriate. Other times that MagicBand would have helped me was when I was with a group of my friends and we had been at one of the parks in the morning when it was cool and I was wearing jeans. I used to keep my park ticket in my back pocket so I’d have easy access for the fastpass machine. That evening I changed into shorts and went back to the Magic Kingdom. I didn’t realize my ticket was still in my jeans pocket until we were at the gate. A pain in my butt that will never happen again.

Get all up in that Mickey head grill.

Get all up in that Mickey head grill.

How To Not Look Like A Newbie:
There is a Mickey head in the middle of the MagicBand. There is also a Mickey head on anything that will read the MagicBands RFID chip (hotel room door, park entrance turnstiles, fastpass return line, etc.) Your band will only read if you touch Mickey head to Mickey head. Yes, you actually need to touch your band to the Mickey Head. You’ll see many people who don’t read this blog waving their MagicBand over the sensor and hoping for Disney magic to allow them entry. While the park attendants will patiently remind you that you need to touch Mickey to Mickey, the patrons behind you may not be as patient. Want to get your kids excited/train your kids to use them, practice at home by decorating your house with Mickey stickers. Put your kids to the test. Put them high, low, on top of counters, on doors. Your family will not only look unbelievably awesome for knowing what to do, (read: you will look like an awesome parent with your life together when your kids manage their MagicBands flawlessly, and who doesn’t want to look like an awesome parent?) You will also save some time not having to learn how to use them.

Complimentary when staying on property.

Complimentary when staying on property.

FYI:

MagicBands are only complementary to Disney World Resort guests and Annual Passholders. If you are staying off site, you will have the option of purchasing a MagicBand at one of the parks. If you do not wish to purchase a MagicBand, you will have a card that will essentially do the exact same thing. If you do have a MagicBand, you do not have to link it to your credit card. It might become all too easy to start waving your wrist around in the air and spending money on souvenirs like you just don’t care. Also, even if you do opt in, your children won’t be unless you want them to. Remember how I mentioned the My Disney Experience account? This is how you choose your fastpasses and link them to your MagicBand. Make sure to link your reservations ahead of time to avoid frustrations. I will go over the My Disney Experience app/account in a different blog, but for the meantime, those staying on property can reserve fastpasses 60 days out and off property 30 days out.

Liebster Round 2

liebsterI am so lucky to once again be nominated for the Liebster Award. Thank you so much to fellow Disney blogger Walt Disney World Story Book who nominated me. I appreciate it and I’m overwhelmed with excitement that people tune in to see what I have to say about the happiest place on Earth.

Rules of the award:
1.) The nominated blogger must link back to the person who nominated them.
2.) The nominees must answer the questions given to them by the person who nominated them.
3.) The nominated blogger must make up new questions to be passed on to a new nominee.
4.) The nominated must choose 7-11 of their favorite bloggers who have less than 200 followers to answer their own set of questions. When you are nominated. You can not nominate the person who nominated you.

Happy Blogging Everyone!

My Responses to Walt Disney World Story Book Questions:
1. What is your favorite Walt Disney World memory?
Finishing my first runDisney ½ marathon (Wine and Dine) with my now husband. The parks were lit up at night, I was full of adrenaline, and I got to see “behind the scenes” which I love doing.

2. What is your favorite Disney World tradition?
We always eat at the Rainforest Cafe. Whether we are in Disney World or Disneyland, it just ends up happening. Don’t think we’ve missed it on a trip yet. I’m obsessed with the China Island Chicken Salad.

3. What have you never done at Walt Disney World that you are dying to do?
I have never been on one of the tours but would love to since I love hearing about the history of the parks and attractions and going behind the scenes.

4. What is your favorite attraction – past or present – at WDW?
I love and have always been a fan of pirates of the caribbean. While I actually prefer the Disneyland versions since it’s a lot longer, it’s a ride I never get tired of.

5. What is your favorite meal at WDW?
Dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern. It’s like Thanksgiving everyday!

6. If money were no object, which souvenir would you buy?
I would buy art work or attraction posters to hang in my Disney office.

7. Cars Land – yes or no?
Love Cars Land in Disneyland but I’m not so sure I want it coming to Disney World. Having too many similarities isn’t as fun as trying new things.

8. Which character meet is a must-do for you?
I don’t do character meets, but I usually end up taking pictures of some of the princesses during the parade.

9. If you could ask Walt Disney one question, what would it be?
What is your favorite ride at Walt Disney World today?

10. What is your favourite parade?
I love Spectromagic since I’m a huge fan of twinkling lights.

11. Which ride would you want to walk through – after hours?
The Great Movie Ride. So many cool sets, props, and animatronics.

Here are my questions for my nominees:
1. What is your favorite resort to stay at?
2. What’s your favorite mode of transportation at WDW, monorail, bus, boat, walking?
3. What’s the nicest thing a cast member has ever done for you?
4. If you could go to Disney during any month of the year, when would you go?
5. What do you think is the most underrated attraction at Disney World is?
6. Are there any rides you refuse to go on, and why?
Non-Disney Questions:
7. What makes you happy?
8. If you could teleport to anywhere else in the world right now, where would you go?
9. What do you think your best feature is?
10. What’s your favorite dinner?
11. Where do you want your next vacation to be?

My nominees:
Awesome work guys, keep doing what you’re doing.

Fan of Mickey
Dad For Disney
Exploring Disney
Disney News Today
Wish Upon A Blog With Cody
Stretching It To Travel
Travel By Natasha
Eat, Sleep, Run…Wine!
Mommy Loves to Travel
The Reluctant Runner to Badass Runner

Why Disney World Resorts Are The Best (Series)…Deluxe Resorts Part 1

welcomeWe have come to the next part of the hotel series: deluxe hotels. Anyone trying to do Disney on a budget should stay far far away from these guys. The deluxe hotels are available in themes to match anyone’s interest and needs. Since there are 8 deluxe hotels on property, I am dividing my posts up so as not to overwhelm anyone with the amount of exciting Disney knowledge. This post will focus on the Magic Kingdom resorts which include The Grand Floridian, the Contemporary, the Polynesian, and the Wilderness Lodge. Each vastly different from each other, and each awesome in their own right. Unlike the value and moderate resorts which closely resemble each other, deluxe resorts march to the beat of their own drum. I have stayed at 3 of the Magic Kingdom resorts, and been a frequent customer at the Contemporary. Allow me to break down what amenities each resort possesses, along with some pros and cons you might experience.

Grand Floridian Lobby

Grand Floridian Lobby

The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
Notably the most expensive resort on property, the Grand Floridian does try to live up to its grand name. This Victorian themed resort has multiple buildings, restaurants, and entertainment. Many people wonder with such an expensive resort (rates typically are around $400 a night or more) will they feel out of place dressed in a tee shirt and flip flops. The answer is no. Everyone is in the same boat you are. They are spending the days in the park, they are walking to the pool, they are exploring the hotel. Occasionally you will see people dressed up, but it’s usually because they are on their way to dinner.

Grand Floridian Orchestra

Grand Floridian Orchestra

One of the most enjoyable parts of this hotel for me was the live music. Every night in the lobby they either have a pianist or an orchestra serenading you with your favorite Disney classics. While this hotel is beautiful, I have to say I was not a fan of the room décor. Victorian is just not my cup of tea so I didn’t want to hold it against them, but then I saw the room pictures from the new Grand Floridian villas and those look beautiful to me. So in my opinion it might be time for a room remodel. Again, my opinion. This hotel is conveniently situated on the monorail line, but you also have the option of taking a boat over to the Magic Kingdom. At this time, you cannot walk to the Magic Kingdom since there is a waterway in the way, but there are nice walking paths on property. Some things to consider when staying at the Grand Floridian, while you are super close to the Magic Kingdom, everything else will be pretty far away.

Club Level is always stocked with delicious treats.

Club Level is always stocked with delicious treats.

Do not be surprised if it takes you an hour or more to get back from Downtown Disney, so as always, plan accordingly. I was unexpectedly upgraded to club level when I was there on my 21st birthday which was fantastic. Food and drinks are provided all day long. Tip: If you are doing a club level, I would not recommend the dining plan and vice versa. There comes a point where you physically can not eat anymore food and you start to feel gluttonous and wasteful. I would pick one or the other so as not to gain an additional 20 pounds on your vacation. FYI, the club level does include alcohol, so let that sway you one way or the other.

The Contemporary

Bay Lake side of Contemporary Atrium.

Bay Lake side of Contemporary Atrium.

I have had some really fantastic stays at the contemporary resort. This hotel always screams Disney to me when I see the iconic monorail pass through the building. I have an entire post dedicated to interesting tidbits about the Contemporary resort so I will try not to repeat myself. This hotel has a modern feel to it. You have the main atrium and an additional garden wing where you will have your more affordable rooms. The rooms at the contemporary are my favorite of the deluxe hotels. Clean white sheets and pillows, giant square sinks in the bathroom, modern desk, and even a day bed that could sleep an extra child. If you have a room in the atrium, you will either have a view of the Magic Kingdom or Bay Lake. FYI, Chef Mickey can be loud if your room is close to that side of the building. Some people prefer the garden wing for this reason.

The monorail is quieter than Chef Mickey.

The monorail is quieter than Chef Mickey.

Strangely enough, the monorail is very quiet, and you will never notice it going though when you are in your room. My absolute favorite thing about staying at the Contemporary is the walkway to the Magic Kingdom. It is literally a walkway just for you, and will get you there faster than taking the monorail. While these deluxe hotels are pricey, you are really paying for the convenience of being close to the action. The contemporary also has a nice marina on the Bay Lake side where you can parasail. One thing this hotel doesn’t have compared to some of the other resorts are nice walking paths.

The huge hospitality suite

The huge hospitality suite

While Bay Lake is fun to look at, I was never wowed by the grounds themselves. I was also upgraded while staying at the Contemporary to the hospitality suite/club level. I literally felt like a millionaire and got a taste of what celebrities might do when they go to Disney. Connected to a regular room was a huge living room, complete with kitchen, couches, dining room, and extra bathrooms. It was unbelievable big. And the club level is located on the Magic Kingdom side of the atrium which means incredible views and again, all you can eat and drink throughout the day.

Enjoy the Spirit of Aloha

Enjoy the Spirit of Aloha

The Polynesian
While I have never stayed at the Polynesian, I definitely plan to after the extensive rehab that is currently happening. The Polynesian will be going back to its original opening name of the Polynesian Village Resort. This hotel houses a lobby and 11 additional long house buildings. Each will have a different view or will be closer to something. For example, you can request rooms closer to the pool, closer to the main building with the monorail, the bus stop, etc.

Self serve Dole Whips

Self serve Dole Whips

Since this hotel is also on the monorail line, you can hop on in the main building, or have the option of boating over to the Magic Kingdom. The tikiman http://www.tikimanpages.com/poly/ can give you some great updates on what is actually happening to the resort and how your stay might be affected if you have an upcoming trip planned there. The Polynesian does have some great dinner entertainment, with the Spirit of Aloha luau dinner show. This hotel also serves Dole whips which have becoming something of a cult classic refreshment. FYI, while this hotel is situated on the beach of the Seven Seas Lagoon, you cannot swim in the lake. Apparently flesh eating bacteria is just waiting to take hold of some unsuspecting tourist. Don’t let it be you.

View from Wilderness lodge room.

View from Wilderness lodge room.

Wilderness Lodge
The Wilderness Lodge has a very rustic/lodge feel. The lobby is very beautiful and has a stream that flows through the hotel to outside and eventually shoots off as a geyser. This hotel is great for the family looking for deluxe amenities, but doesn’t want to pay top dollar. Often the rooms here will be $100 less than the contemporary or other deluxe resorts. While this hotel is not on the monorail line, it is a Magic Kingdom resort, so you will be transported to the Magic Kingdom by boat. This hotel sits close to Bay Lake and has a nice walking path out the the boat docks.

Bunk beds room, love 'em or hate 'em.

Bunk beds room, love ’em or hate ’em.

While I think the hotel is beautiful, I did not find the rooms to be as nice. This resort offers a bunk bed option, but I found that made the room seem smaller. However based on your families needs, this could work out perfectly. This hotel is very close to Fort Wilderness and a nice walking/biking path links the two resorts. Wilderness Lodge has some very nice restaurants and is home to Whispering Canyon Cafe, a western/comedy/audience participation family style dinner.

More on Deluxe Resorts
What you get with a deluxe resort is a theme of a place and/or time and less in your face Disney (This doesn’t mean there aren’t tons on hidden Mickey’s to find). These resorts are far smaller than your value and moderate hotels, so there is more of an intimate, personal atmosphere.

Interior hallways in the deluxe resorts

Interior hallways in the deluxe resorts

All of the deluxe resorts also have interior hallways, meaning the walk to your room is inside a building unlike the values and moderates where you walk outside, similar to a motel. This means that your window view will not have people walking past it like the values and moderates, so it’s up to you if that view is worth shelling out a little more dough. Keep in mind, the deluxe resorts don’t really have food courts, and what they do have is often very small and get’s very crowded at breakfast time. If you are not super into breakfast, consider eating in your room, or grabbing something at the park. On the flip side, the deluxe resorts offer way more table service dining options (buffets, character meals, dinner shows, elegant dining). These can be fun and tasty, but pricey too. So if it’s in the cards, go for it, if not, you have plenty of great options all over the Disney World Resort to choose from. Stay tuned for part 2 of this post where we will look at the Epcot resorts, Beach Club, Yacht Club, and Boardwalk, and the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Getting Ready For Your Walt Disney World Vacation…Training

Start doing some pre-Disney training to get you in tip top walking shape.

Start doing some pre-Disney training to get you in tip top walking shape.

The Importance of Walking:
I am officially under the two month mark until my next Disney World vacation so I decided it was time to start writing about preparing for the trip. I like to approach Disney World trips the same as if I were climbing a mountain. You don’t just show up unprepared or your trip will be more difficult and exhausting than it has to be. Disney is one very spread out World. Between walking to food courts, bus stops, park entrances, ride to ride, stage shows, dining reservations, and back to the bus stop, you can expect to walk up to 5 miles or more in one given day. If walking or running 5 miles or more is not something you do on a biweekly basis, I highly recommend doing a little pre-disney training. No need to go super hard-core and start killing yourself, but getting in the habit of walking will make for a more enjoyable trip. If you consider yourself to be super out of shape (like me after I refused to walk, run, or workout in any capacity for 4 months after I ran a marathon) start simple, like half a mile.

Zoom in on my sweet Dr. Scholls.

Zoom in on my sweet Dr. Scholls.

The Importance of Footwear:
These walks are not only going to help get you in Disney shape, they are a great opportunity to find the perfect Disney walking shoes to keep you comfortable. One time I was super psyched to try new Croc flip-flops because they seemed so comfy and they would allow my feet to breathe nicely. I don’t even think I got a mile before the top of my foot was skinless thanks to constant rubbing. I quickly ditched those and started looking for another option, but was so happy I had tested the waters in them before the actual trip. I would highly recommend having two pairs of shoes that feel comfortable to you, maybe sneakers and sandals. Between water rides, dancing fountains, and unexpected downpours, your shoes have a good chance of getting wet, and walking around in wet shoes is probably one of the most uncomfortable things humanly possible. Not to mention the high risk of blisters. My plan of attack, especially in warmer months is sneakers in the morning and sandals in the evening, allowing my swollen feet some much-needed airflow. What I have also discovered is that while my running sneakers are very comfortable when I am running in them, they are not as great when I am leisurely walking. I have found my right match, Dr. Scholls sneakers and Old Navy Flip flops. Hopefully you too can find your ideal match before your next trip.

The Importance of the Elements:
It’s no secret to anyone who knows me, I do NOT do well in the heat. I am a full body sweater, (TMI?) and Florida in the summer does scare me a bit. Super hot, super humid days are just the norm in the summer. If you are planning a summer trip, I would advise doing some of your training walks during the hottest part of the day. This is good for a couple of reasons.

Flowy tops are my best friend in the parks.

Flowy tops are my best friend in the parks.

1, You will get to see what clothes make you sweat less, or hide your sweat the best. For some people this might be cotton, for other it might be moisture wicking athletic shirts. Your training period is like a practice run so you get it right when you are finally in Disney.

2, You will get a better idea of how long you can go before the heat and humidity fatigue you. If one mile in very hot weather if about all you can bear, you know that breaks need to be built into your day and you should probably plan some sufficient pool time. If you are like my cousins, where it’s the hotter the better, you can keep on keepin on with your plans.

Remember to stay hydrated!

Remember to stay hydrated!

The Importance of Caring for your Body:
I promise you will have a more enjoyable experience by doing some simple training walks. You will have more stamina which will allow you to make more memories and make everyone else in your party happy. Some important tips to remember when training and when you are finally on vacation, don’t forget to be hydrating frequently and always wear sunscreen. Purchasing a small hand-held fan isn’t a bad way to beat the heat either. A little preparation can go a long way when it comes to comfort, and enjoyment.

The Job I’ve Been Waiting For…Disney Vacation Planner

Carsland in Disneyland

I’m a Disney World AND Disneyland pro

Over the last couple months, I have been putting all my effort into becoming a Disney Vacation Planner for the Wish Upon a Star With Us agency. While it might have been a bit of a shock to my friends and family when I sprang this news on them, after a couple minutes, no one really seemed surprised. I can’t help but think this was the role I was meant to play. My vast knowledge and love for Disney suddenly has a purpose in life, and I couldn’t be happier.

 

So what exactly does a vacation planner do? We plan vacations of course! But not just any vacations, Disney vacations: the most magical of them all. I won’t lie to you when I say planning a Disney vacation can be more work that one might like it to be. There are many things to consider, where to stay, when to go, where to eat, what to do when we get there.

Let me take all the stress out of planning for you.

Let me take all the stress out of planning for you.

My job is to be your Disney guru and channel your inner-most Disney desires. I take the time and stress out of planning so you can just show up and be on vacation. I will take care of booking accommodations, park tickets, magic bands, fastpasses, dining reservations, transportation, and anything else you can possibly think of. No more searching the internet for hours wondering if this weekend is the right time to book, or if prices will drop next weekend. No more pointing and clicking your life away doing your own research for restaurants. You already know your family — tell me what they like, and I’ll help you find your very own Disney niche. For those that want to give up full control, I will plan it all, for those that have ideas of what you already like, I will work with you. And here comes the kicker, this service is no cost to you! That’s right, free, and we all know nothing at Disney is free. My planning abilities also extend far beyond Disney World. As a graduate of the Disney College of Knowledge, I am authorized to book Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani Resort and Spa, Disney Cruise Line, and Adventures by Disney.

Now what do I get out of it? I get an excuse to talk about Disney everyday. I get to plan magical vacations so families will have lasting memories together. I get the satisfaction of knowing I helped play a role in your dream vacation. Disney pays us a small commission to provide this service for you.

thinking of a runDisney event? Let me help you plan.

Thinking of a runDisney event? Let me help you plan.

Part of Your World blog readers, spread the word. If you’re in the market for a Disney vacation, I’m your girl. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Now is the perfect time to go. Celebrate today with everyone that makes you happy in this world and head to the happiest place on Earth.

Contact me and let’s start planning your next Disney vacation today!

sandy@wishuponastarwithus.com
(716) 672-9996