Showing posts with label Walt Disney World Tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Walt Disney World Tips. Show all posts

Friday, May 18, 2012

Roadtrip Ready: 10 Tips to Survive Disney with Small Kids

Hi!  I'm Jill, the Mom from over at the Barnes Yard and I am so excited to be here today at RTSM!

My friend, Kelli, is going to have so much fun road trippin' with her family this summer!  I'm totally in love with her Airstream!

So the Barnes Yard doesn't do road trips.  I know!  We are super wimps!  I've got two kids that get barf-a-rama the minute we leave our town! 

Last month we went to Disneyland via plane.
I do have some great tips for staying (somewhat) sane while doing Disney with small children!

1.  Make lists 
Making lists is actually one of my favorite pastimes...Anyway, each day before we headed to the park, I made a list of things I would like to accomplish, i.e. picture of kids with Mickey ears on, ride on It's a Small World, meet Rapunzel, etc.  That way I could stay focused whilst being pulled in a million directions by over-excited children.
2.  Bring Grandparents
Honestly, there is no way we could have pulled off this trip without the Grandparents in tow.  They were there to push strollers, wait with the "too shorts" while the bigger kids went on rides, and take anyone in the middle of a meltdown back to the hotel for a nap.  We LOVE them! 
3.  $$ saving tip: Buy your Mouse gear before you get to the park.
I knew I wanted to dress my kids Disney every day so I stocked up months before our trip at Target, Old Navy, WalMart, and disneystore.com
 I also swiped Kelli's idea of making our own autograph books!
4.  Wear bright colors
This is what my daughter was wearing the day we lost her.  Yep, we totally lost her for about ten minutes.  Luckily my eagle eyes spotted her bright skirt from a mile away!
5.  Bring your own stroller and rent one
We brought our own strollers for the babies but, let me tell you, it was nice to have something to push around all of our drinks, snacks, cameras, purses, and purchases in, plus have a place for the big kids to sit when they got really whiny.  
6.  Don't eat too many Oreos the first night.
My husband made fun of me for leaving a note, but seriously, I would have felt really bad if the maid had put her hand in that black mess.
7.  If they love Princesses, give them Princesses!
You better believe that I rode on that Ariel ride 50 times too!
8.  Eat at IHOP
Kids eat free with purchase of adult meal.  We had 6 adults and 6 kids so this totally worked in our favor.
9.  Get a special souvenir  
The days were long and super exhausting (we estimated that we walked 10-12 miles each day), but every time I look at this I will remember how magical it was for my kiddos (well, at least the two older ones)!
10.  Act like a kid and HAVE FUN!
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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Walt Disney World Recap: Favorites

Favorite Family Picture:
 This was taken at the Polynessian after the really fun and yummy Luau!
*****
Favorite Photo Op:
 The Sword in the Stone is such a fun photo especially for boys! My boys watched the movie on the way to Disney World so they would know what this was when we got there:)
*****
Favorite Secret Challenge:
 See that paint brush in Henry's hand....there are few of those hidden on Tom Sawyer's Island and if you find one the raft driver will give you a special treat! It was great fun for the boys to search the island looking for paint brushes, and the extra fast passes to Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain were really nice too!
*****
Favorite Parade:
 Parades at Disney are awesome, but the Electrical Parade is by far the best. The kids eyes were so big and bright! Eli's favorite part of the parade was seeing Goofy driving one of the floats that looked like a train!
*****
Favorite Table Service Restaurant:
Whispering Canyon Cafe in the Wilderness Lodge is one of our all time favorites. The food is wonderful and the atmosphere is so much fun for the kiddos. They have stick horse races, bottomless milkshakes...and don't even think about asking for ketchup:)
 *****
Favorite Counter Service Restaurant:
It's really a tie between Pizza Planet in Hollywood Studios and Casey's Corner in Magic Kingdom. Pizza Planet is a blast for the kids and we actually went there twice. The hot dogs at Casey's Corner are really good...and the bleachers set up in the dining area are so fun! Plus they have Cracker Jack's for dessert, how fun is that!?!
 *****
Favorite Snack Plan Snack:
 This is a cookie ice cream sandwich from the Bakery on Main Street in Magic Kingdom. The first day we were at Magic Kingdom, Jason saw someone eating this and we spend a while trying to figure out where it came from so we could get one too! It is ginourmous and so good...and it counted as a snack on our meal plan!
*****
Favorite Snack {not on the snack plan}:
 Seriously how cute is this apple! It didn't count as a snack on our plan, but I couldn't leave Disney without getting one! I grabbed this one on our last day at the candy store in Hollywood Studios, and brought it home with me as a little souvenir.
*****
Favorite Birthday Celebration:
 We celebrated Grant's birthday at Whispering Canyon Cafe and it was so much fun. They brought out this giant cupcake for him and then the entire restaurant sang Happy Birthday to him:)
*****
Favorite Breakfast Food:
 Everything at the breakfast buffet at Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood Studios was yummy, but you just can't beat the Mickey Waffles! Something about being in the shape of Mickey's head just makes food taste better!
*****
Favorite Places to Play:
The kids LOVE the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Play Set in Hollywood Studios! It is the perfect place for them to burn off some extra energy!
 My boys also had a great time digging around in the Dinosaur Boneyard at Animal Kingdom. I think this was probably their favorite part of Animal Kingdom...and mine too! It was nice and shady and the kiddos could entertain themselves for hours in the pebbles/sand/Texas Grits!
*****
Favorite Place to Get Wet:
 The jumping fountains at Epcot are always a hit with the kiddos. Last time we did more watching, but this time the kids really played in the fountains and got pretty wet...which was fine since it was over 90 degrees when we were there!
I have a few more favorites and some more fun pictures to share with you, but this post has gotten way too long and blogger is taking forever to load my pictures!  Check back tomorrow for a few more fun shots and even a hidden Mickey:)
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Vacation Aftermath

We're back! Well, actually we've been back for a few days, but it has taken me that long to recover:) Please tell me I'm not the only one who feels like they need another vacation when they get home from their real vacation! We went non-stop {except for one afternoon nap} for 8 days at Walt Disney World, and let me just tell you it is exhausting! We saw almost everything {we skipped a few things at Animal Kingdom}, and we rode every ride at all 4 parks at least once...we rode some 5 times:)
Since we've been home...
*I've been trying to catch up on my sleep*
*I've unpacked 2/3 of our suitcases*
*I 've been busy washing, folding, and putting away loads and loads of laundry*
*I've watched way too many hours of reality tv on the dvr...thank you HGTV*
*I've gone shopping to buy groceries for our empty shelves and fridge*
*I've been stressing out about a birthday party that needs to be planned in less than 5 days*

One thing I haven't done is edit the 347 pictures that I took while we were gone! So I'll just share two shots with you today and hopefully in the next few days I will find the time to edit them and share a few more:)


I want to say a great big THANK YOU to all my wonderful blog friends who did guest posts for me last week! If you missed any of their amazing guest posts, please go back and check them out and leave some comment love:)
Mon:  Felt Napkin Rings by Paula from Sweet Pea
Thurs: Baked Zucchini Bites by Amanda from Serenity Now
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Disney Crafts: Mickey Toes

I'm going to preface this post by saying that I'm really not a big fan of feet...they kind of gross me out! So sharing a picture of my feet on my blog is kind of a big deal, but this was such a fun thing to do for Disney that I decided to share it with you:)
**************
To start your Mickey Toes, you need a base coat of bright red.
Then you need to gather your supplies: black nail polish, contact paper, and a hole punch or two.
 Using your hole punch, punch three circles in the shape of a Mickey Mouse head into your contact paper. I ended up using a standard hole punch for the head and a smaller punch for the ears. You can make it work with the standard punch too it will just take some practice. {The top one is done using only the standard hole punch and the two bottom ones I used the smaller punch for the ears.}
 After you've got the perfect Mickey, peel off the back of the contact paper and stick it on your big toe. You can face the Mickey head towards you or away, but I figured I would be looking at it more so I faced it so I could see it:) Press down all around the shape to make sure it is sealed good and no polish will run under the edge.
 Paint a coat of black polish over the cut out Mickey and allow it to dry. You can do more than one coat, but with black you really only need one coat to cover really well.
 Now your toes are ready to head to Disney and visit Mickey Mouse:)

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Walt Disney World Tips: Part 2

Today's post is all about what to pack when you are heading to Walt Disney World! Ironically I'm posting this late today because I've been busy buying a few last minutes things for our trip...and packing:)

Packing for a trip to Disney starts pretty much like packing for any vacation. After checking to see what the weather will be like when you are there, you pack a set of clothes for each day and probably a couple extra sets just to be safe. Everyone in your family needs to have a {really} comfortable pair of tennis shoes....you will be doing a lot of walking in Disney and flip flops just won't cut it! For Disney, you also need to include a bathing suit, especially if you are planning on going to one of their two water parks. Even though you will be wearing your tennis shoes all day, you might want to consider packing some flip flops to wear to the pool too! You will need to bring a little bit of rain gear just in case the weather doesn't cooperate:) We usually take ponchos because they are easy to toss in our bag and carry around at all times, just in case it rains. On our last trip, we also found that an extra poncho is perfect for covering up your stroller when you park it outside and head it to see a show and get out of the rain!

There are also a few other things that you want to be sure to include in your suitcases before you leave for Walt Disney World. Refillable water bottles or some other kinds of drinks are a necessity, especially if you are going to Disney in the summer. Florida can get pretty hot and steamy during the summer months! We actually bought Henry and Grant hydration backpacks this year to see if that is easier than keeping up with 5 water bottles all week! Don't forget the sunscreen, and not just for when you are at the pool. You will probably be in the sun all day long, and even during the winter months you will need to lather up on sunscreen before heading out to the parks each day. I also carry some band-aids or a first aid kit in our bag just in case we get any scraped knees or pinched fingers...these fun Mickey Band-aids are perfect for a WDW vacation:)

After all the clothes, shoes, and necessities have been squared away, you can move on to some of the more fun stuff to pack. I always try to stick a few snacks in our bag just in case someone gets the munchies, and we don't want to spend a small fortune on chips or cookies. The great thing is there are all kinds of Disney/Mickey snacks in the stores now, so your kiddos will still feel like their snack is special even if it came out of your bag:) Snacks are also a really good distraction when waiting in line for the rides! Stickers are another great way to entertain your little ones when they are waiting in lines or riding to and from the parks. Another really great tip that I read before we left for our last trip was to take pennies and let your kiddos throw them in the various fountains around Disney! I found that mini M&M containers are the perfect size to hold pennies, so each of my boys has their own supply of pennies to use any time we see a fountain:)


A few more great suggestions are Glow in the Dark necklaces and bracelets {you can get these at the dollar store and in the dollar section at Target}, disposable cameras for the kiddos to use, and temporary tattoos with your contact information on them {just in case one of your kiddos get lost}...and don't forget those autograph books!

Come back tomorrow to see a great shirt you can make for your kiddos plus something fun for mom too!
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Disney Crafts: Autograph Book

One of the most memorable things about a Disney vacation is getting to meet the characters. Before our last trip I remember worrying about my boys being scared of the characters, but when we got to Disney my boys couldn't get enough of them. Well, except for the princesses who they refuse to even stand beside for a picture:) Getting autographs is a big part of meeting Mickey, Donald, and even the Green Army Man, so every kid needs to have an autograph book. Sure you can buy the ones that they sell in all the gift shops, but why not make your own really cute {personalized} version for way less money!
 I started our autograph books with a small spiral bound notebook that I picked up at Walmart for less than $2. Using my Silhouette, I cut a few Mickey heads and the year out of white contact paper. Because the contact paper is so thin {and I was trying to cover up the writing on the cover of the notebook} I had to do a double layer of Mickey heads on the cover. Then I cut each of my boys' first initials out in black vinyl { I used a font called Waltograph} and put the initial onto the white Mickey head. If you look closely at the top right corner, you can see that I also added a small piece of black vinyl to cover up the smaller logo {Mead} that was on the front cover.
 To add a little bit of color, I wove a piece of red and white checked ribbon through the metal spirals of the notebook and tied a knot in one end. On the other end of the ribbon, I tied on a retractable Sharpie that is just the right size for the characters to sign their names. {I read somewhere that it is hard for them to grip smaller pens with their big character hands, and these retractable Sharpies worked wonderfully on our last trip.}
Now all three of my boys are ready to get some autographs from Mickey Mouse and all the gang...and I'm hoping maybe we can manage to get at least one picture with a princess:)
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Monday, August 15, 2011

Walt Disney World Tips: Part 1

In celebration of our upcoming trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida, I thought I would put together a few posts to show how we do Disney! Today, part one of my Walt Disney World Tips is about planning. In my opinion, the most important part of any vacation is the planning. The more work you do before you leave, the more smoothly your trip is likely to go.

The first step in planning your Disney vacation is research. There are a ton of travel books out there with all kinds of information about Walt Disney World. I would suggest checking your library first....no need to buy a book when you can borrow it! You could also head over to your local bookstore and browse the travel section to get some great information. If you want to buy a travel guide for Disney, one great reason to go ahead and buy it is that you can take it with you while at Walt Disney World to have as a resource. Another great place to do a little research in on the internet. The two websites I've used most during my research are the official Disney website and allears.net. Both sites have great information about planning your trip including information about hotels, restaurants, the parks, and everything in between. Doing a little bit of research will help you customize your vacation for your family and make sure you have the most magical time possible!

There are alot of things to consider when planning your WDW vacation, but one of the first thing you have to decide on is the timing of your trip. After working around work and school schedules, you have to decide if you want to go during peak or off peak season at Disney. Their peak seasons are during most holidays and during the summer. During peak season, everything is just a little more expensive than it is during off peak season. The crowds are also usually a lot smaller during off peak times. If at all possible I would recommend going during an off peak season just to save time and money. {You can click here to see more information about past attendance}. But there are also other things to consider like the specials that Disney may be running. We are actually going during peak season on this trip, but Disney was offering the meal plan for free which made peak season more affordable for us. Another really big thing to consider when traveling with kids is their age. Most of the time Disney trips are planned for months if not years in advance, and if you time it right you can save a ton of money. Did you know that children under 3 are FREE at Disney. That means no tickets, no meal plan, and they don't factor into your hotel count either. One of the main reason we are going in August is because Eli will not be 3 until September so he is free, and we {a family of 5} can still stay in a room for a family of 4 until he turns 3. You also should consider your older kids' ages when they move from being able to buy a child's ticket {ages 3-9} to being considered a guest {anyone age 10+}. You can save lot of money by going before you kids turn 10, not only on tickets but also on meals! Disney's policy is that the age you are on your arrival is the age you are the whole trip. So if you are celebrating a 3rd or 10th birthday, go to Disney a day or two before the birthday so your child is still considered the younger age for your trip! 

After you decide when to go, you have to decide where to stay. As a child we stayed at off Disney hotels, and I remember nothing but magic from those vacations. But with that said, I would always recommend staying on Disney property if possible. I haven't done much research on off Disney hotels, mainly because I think that even though Disney properties may be a little more expensive, the benefits of staying at Disney are well worth the extra money. Disney has three categories of hotels: value, moderate, and deluxe. Within those three categories there are many resorts to chose from. Click here to check out all the options at Walt Disney World and see what would fit your family best! On our first trip to Disney we stayed at a value resort. It was very nice, though small for the money...but really who spends much time in the room when there is so much to do at the parks! This time we decided to upgrade to a deluxe resort, mostly because this is the last chance we will get to stay and be considered a family of 4 and deluxe is out of our price range once we are considered a family of 5. There are three other things that are major factors in making staying on Disney property a great choice: Extra Magic Hours, Disney Transportation, and the Disney Dining Plan. Click on the link to see more information about all three great features of Disney properties.

The last thing you will consider when planning your vacation is where to eat. Disney has anything from fine dining restaurants to carts that sell turkey legs! From my experience, I would highly recommend the Disney Dining Plan. Disney has a few different plans to chose from: Quick Service Dining, Dining, and Deluxe Dining. For our family, the Dining Plan was totally worth the money and seems to make our vacation less stressful because it is paid for ahead of time. It means no worrying about spend $50 on burgers or rationing our money to afford a nice sit down meal. On a normal day at Disney, we eat breakfast in our room before heading to the park, we eat a quick service meal for lunch, and then we have dinner at a character meal or other table service restaurant. One other great thing about the Disney Dining Plan is that sometimes Disney offers if for free!  My biggest recommendation about dining at Disney would be that if you are planning to go any character meals {they are included in the dining and deluxe dining plan as a table service meal}, you MUST make reservation as soon as possible {180 days from the day of your vacation}. My boys really enjoyed all the character meals, plus you get photos and autographs without waiting in a line for hours:) Disney also has some great Dinner Shows including a luau, a backyard bbq, and a princess tea party!

Check back tomorrow to see a couple of fun Disney crafts to make before you head to Florida, and I will continue with my Walt Disney World Tips series on Wednesday with a post on what to pack!
{Click HERE to see Walt Disney World Tips: Part 2 }
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