Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How to Pass Time While Waiting in Line

By: Lindsey
 
 
 
Lines can be tortuous for children. Let’s be honest. Lines can be no fun for people of all ages. I hate standing in lines. They can be boring. They can sometimes move SO slowly. And let’s not mention those people who have no sense of personal space. When those people are behind me, I tend to exaggerate my hand motions when I talk. Did my elbow get you in the stomach? Yeah, buddy. You are too close. 
 
Depending on the week you choose to stay at Disney, your wait time can be non-existent, moderate, or it can be downright painful. Here are some things that you can do while you are waiting in line to help pass the time. 
 
For Smaller Children:
 
  • Interactive Songs (quietly sung) – Songs like “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” and “Pat-a-cake” can help pass the time by. Pinterest has some great suggestions for other songs and hand motions as well. Anniston loved these types of songs when she was smaller. They could have entertained her for hours if I would have been able to stand it. ;) While waiting in line, sing favorite ones or learn new ones! 
  • Find Shapes – The queues at Disney are entertaining and interactive for most rides. They have details that enhance the ride experience. Use the time to look at your surroundings and work on shape recognition. You can have them look for a specific shape or practice labeling shapes that they see. I always love look & find games. 
  • Hide & Seek – I know what you are thinking, “How in the world do I play hide & seek in a line?” Well, you can’t play the traditional hide & seek, but you can create a version of it for waiting in lines. Take a coin or some other small object and take turns hiding it in different spots that move with you as you go through the line. You can hide it in your clothing or bag. Then let your little one guess where it’s hidden.
  • Practice Letters/Phonics – Like I mentioned above, most rides have themes even while you are waiting. Most of them have posters or art or other things like that. Find letters of the alphabet and work on letter recognition. Or if your child already knows the letters, give them the sound the letter makes and ask them to find that letter near you. You’ll be surprised at what you see when you are looking around!
  • Working on identifying numbers – Same as the letters above. While the numbers won’t have sounds to identify, you can still make fun games with identifying numbers.
  • I Spy – Look around and play I Spy. With so many things to look at, it won’t be hard to find lots of things to kill time. You can also download our free I Spy printable to take with you! There is one for each park that has lots of different things to spy!
  
For Older Children:
  
  • Hidden Mickey’s – Have you read about Hidden Mickeys at Disney? If not, here is a great article. These are a great way to pass the time; they are everywhere!
  • Practice Reading – This is something that we definitely do. Anniston is still learning to read (she’s working on longer words now) and she loves to try to read everything she sees. We practice reading signs, posters, and, well, everything. If we don’t have anything around us, we’ll pull out our smartphone and type sentences in the notes. We create fun little stories and then she reads them to us. We’ll also flip that around and make her type out a few sentences for us to read. It helps her read and practice “writing.” If you don’t want to have your phone out on vacation, pack a few small readers in your backpack.
  • Sight Words – Flash cards will easily fit into your backpack. You can also the words around you. There are several games to play with flash cards. You can make two sets (we make our own) and play a “go-fish” or “old-maid” type game. There are so many more.
  • Practice Numbers – If you child is ready and hasn’t already started simple addition and subtraction, while you are waiting in line is a good time to introduce the concept. Or if you are already working on this, it’s a good time to practice. We started out using our fingers, “If I have five {showing one hand} and I add three more {showing three on the other hand}, how many do I have now?” Anniston saw it as a fun game and we did this forever. She mastered that pretty quickly so then we took our hands away and made it more challenging. We also took things like the number of people in front of us (staying within the range that she could currently understand) and made fun little games while working on our math skills.
  • Interactive Queues – The Imagineers have done incredible updates to a lot of the rides. Have you seen the queue at Dumbo? It’s amazing! Each year, during a ride’s refurbishment period, they are adding more and more interactive elements to the waiting queues. Winnie the Pooh has a great one! So does Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Keep the lines moving, but also give your kids time to explore the interactive queues. They have some pretty neat stuff!
  • Finding new things – If you’ve taken several trips to Disney, you probably think you’ve seen most things on rides. You most likely haven’t. Make it a point for you and your kids to try to find things you’ve never noticed before. Disney is great at adding little details in places you’d never expect. This is one of my favorite things about Disney!
  • I Spy - Look around and play I Spy. With so many things to look at, it won’t be hard to find lots of things to kill time. You can also download our free I Spy printable to take with you! There is one for each park that has lots of different things to spy!
  • Storytelling – I love to read and love all kinds of books. I’m not great at storytelling, but Anniston loves it. Take time to find a detail in line and create a story around that detail. You can even find a person and make up a whole story about how they got to Disney and what they are doing on their vacation. Make up stories about some of the lesser known Disney characters. The options are endless. Anniston loves a good story and when we work together to create it, she’ll be entertained as long as the story continues.
  • Tell Jokes – Okay. This is an option for some kids. Mine, on the other hand, can’t tell a joke to save her life. If your kid likes jokes, make this the time for them to practice. Or you could even surprise them with a joke book that you keep in your backpack. Not our cup of tea, but I know a lot of kids that would enjoy this!
 
These are just a few of the many things that you can do while you wait in lines. Waiting in line doesn’t have to be a bummer part of the vacation. You could also use these while waiting for a parade, a bus, a ferry or whatever you are waiting on. Be intentional and make it fun! That’s what Disney is for – making fun memories!
 
What do y’all do to pass the time in lines?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Disney Experience: Pirates League

By: Melissa

I think most people are familiar with the Bippity Boppity Boutique in Magic Kingdom, and little girls absolutely adore it, as they should. But what if you have a boy? Or a daughter who’s just not that into princesses? Disney has thought of everything, as usual, and offers another “dress up” experience at The Pirates League. But unlike BBB, Pirates League services are open to adults as well.




For our first trip, we wanted to let Caedmon choose a special “experience”. We gave him a couple of options, and Pirates League was his choice. I showed him some of the options available, and he chose the Jake and the Neverland Pirates package.  Several packages include full-face makeup or heavy eye makeup. Full-face makeup wasn’t Caedmon’s thing. For the girls, the pirate packages are available, but there are also mermaid packages that have glittery makeup and nail polish.

I had read about The Pirates League, but I really didn’t know what to expect from the Cast Members once we were there. We actually had a great time! Caedmon had to “sign” the Pirates’ Charter, making him a full-fledged pirate.  We were taken into a room that reminded me of a hair salon – a pirate hair salon - and introduced to our Pirate Master – the CM who would be taking care of us. It was super fun! He actually played with Caedmon a bit – he put the cape on incorrectly as a joke, made sure Caedmon’s ears were secure on his head before starting, and a few little funny things like that. He then worked quickly and smoothly with the makeup and transformed my little boy into a pirate.


After the makeup and wig were done, we were ushered to a small waiting area. We then went into a “secret room”, where Caedmon posed for a photo in front of a cool backdrop with his new pirate gear. The photo is available for purchase separately, but because we had Memory Maker, we got it for free.

Caedmon had a blast being transformed into a pirate. We were there on a MNSSHP day, and there were several people getting their makeup done for the party that night.  The full-face makeup I saw was really well done.

Our Pirate Master explained how to get the special makeup off – he told us to use baby wipes or regular foaming shaving cream (rub it on, then wipe it all off). I had baby wipes, but not so much on the shaving cream. That makeup is some serious stuff. I was actually unable to wipe it off in the park, even with the baby wipes I had with me. But it smeared – badly. Our appointment was at 10 a.m., and by mid-afternoon, Caedmon looked something more reminiscent of The Walking Dead instead of Jake from Neverland. And when I tried to get the makeup off in the resort room using my makeup remover, it still took a lot of scrubbing.

Overall, Caedmon had a lot of fun, and the Jake plan was great for us – dressing up and minimal makeup. The price was also affordable. Will we do it again? Maybe. If he really, really wants to, I’d be inclined to say yes, but it’s not something I feel like we need to plan to do on multiple trips unless he asks – a lot.

So here’s the rundown:
  • You must make an appointment. Reservations open 180 days in advance and can be made by calling (407) 939-7895.
  • Adults and children 3 years of age and older are welcome.
  • The Pirates League is located in Magic Kingdom, near the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Park tickets are required to enter, so make sure you schedule your appointment for a Magic Kingdom park day.
  • If you plan to have them do your hair, be sure to bring along a brush/comb.
  • If you have Memory Maker, you’ll receive your special photo as part of your package. If you don’t have Memory Maker, you’ll need to decide if you want to purchase the special photo.
  • There are, of course, lots of extras you can add on to your package and outfits available for purchase. We decided not to add any extras and still had a marvelous experience.
  • Definitely take along good quality baby wipes, makeup remover cloths, and/or some shaving cream (the cheap foaming stuff).

  • Have you been to Pirates League? What was your favorite part?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Kingdom Strollers Review

By: Lindsey

* A free stroller rental was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

When we first started planning our 2014 Disney trip, we debated back and forth on whether or not we'd need a stroller. Anniston is five. She doesn't use a stroller anymore at home. But we kept coming back to whether or not she could walk all day for 7 days in a row. We decided we needed a stroller.

In the past, we've always brought our own. It's such a hassle to get through the airport with it. We knew this time we would rent a stroller. I was so happy to work with Kingdom Strollers.

I got online and researched the kind of stroller we wanted to rent. Then I used their website to book it. It was so fast and so, so easy. We chose the City Mini Single.




It was so easy to push through the park. It was such a smooth ride. Plus it had a basket below that was large enough to fit souvenirs AND our jackets in. Plus, it had cupholders and extra pockets attached the the handlebars. Anniston thought it was so comfortable, she napped in it several times. That, my friends, is a feat in itself. She doesn't ever nap. And she certainly never naps in a stroller? What more could you ask for, right? Keep reading.





The best part? The folding. All it took was a pull on the handle on the seat and it was folded. That was it. It made those times where we did ride the bus, so much less stressful. And at the end of the day, we just folded it and stuck it in the back of rental car and that was that.



Kingdom Strollers is a featured Disney Stroller provider. What does that mean? They are able to deliver and pick-up your stroller right at the bell service stand in front of your resort. We checked-in, picked up our stroller, and started our vacation. At the end, we rolled up to the stand, handed it over, and that was it! So easy.

We loved our experience with Kingdom Strollers!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Restaurant Review: Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom

by: Jenna

Our very first night at the parks, I scheduled a dinner reservation at Be Our Guest restaurant which is located at the Beast's castle inside of Magic Kingdom. (For more information on how to book ADR's, check out this post). I had heard mixed reviews so I was a little unsure of what we would be getting food wise, but I knew the atmosphere looked so cool online!

I booked our dinner at 6:50 at night. You can check in 15 minutes prior to your reservation (we tried to check in earlier but they are pretty strict about the 15 minute rule) and you're handed a pager. We ended up getting paged about 5 minutes after our ADR time. We walked up to the doors of the castle and were greeted by a hostess with Lumineer. My kids were immediately sold on the place!

As we walked into the grand ballroom, our hostess explained that all three dining rooms (the West Wing, the two-story Ballroom and the Rose Gallery) were open that night (the Rose Room is where they serve quick service lunch and isn't usually open for dinner) and that after we ate, we were welcome to walk through the castle and take pictures. Also, we would be able to go into the Beast's library for a photo op.



We ended up in the Ballroom which is simply gorgeous. The windows are enchanted so it appears to be snowing outside. If you're on the Disney Dining Plan, this restaurant takes one table service credit per person and you get one non-alcoholic drink, one entree and one dessert per person. Be Our Guest is the only restaurant inside of the Magic Kingdom that serves alcohol.


Here's a snapshot of the menu:


We decided to go ahead an order an appetizer, which we paid for (along with our tip as it is not included with the dining plan here) separately via our magic band (you can attach a credit card to them). I'm a big fan of artisan cheeses and meats, so when I saw they had a tasting platter, I had to have it.

I ordered the pork chop and Chris had the steak for dinner. Both were excellent but the steak was really phenomenal. 




Periodically, the Beast will walk (really it's more like a half run) through the restaurant on his way to the library.  I caught a shot (barely!) of him on his way there before dessert:


After dinner, it was time for the long awaited dessert. Since we were celebrating, our waitress put candles in the boys cupcakes. Brody went for the strawberry and Brayden (and I) went for the triple chocolate.


Meanwhile, Chris decided to take one for the team and ordered the mysterious Gray Stuff (you know, from the song Lumineer sings? "Try the gray stuff, it's delicious!").

The triple chocolate cupcake was by far and away, my favorite. I didn't taste Brody's because if there's chocolate and fruit on the table, I'll always head straight for the chocolate. The gray stuff was a real disappointment for me. It was served on this really hard piece of baked chocolate something or other...I'm a food blogger and I don't even know what it was supposed to be. Perhaps a very overcooked brownie or a piece of shortbread? I don't know but it wasn't very good. The gray stuff itself was just okay. It was the only thing we didn't care for!

After that it was picture time with the Beast in his library:


And then we took a quick tour of the restaurant.

Here's the West Wing. Originally I thought we would like to sit in there but it's really, really dark and I like to be able to see my food so I was very happy we ended up in the ballroom.

The rose that loses it's petals throughout dinner:


And here's the Rose Gallery, which was very cute. It's usually just open for lunch but when we were there they had a few of the tables (maybe 5, which was a little odd) set up for dinner:

And on your way out, be sure to stop here for a moment and listen to the suits of armor talk!


So, overall, this was by far our very favorite table service meal of this trip. We loved everything - the food, the atmosphere, the experience! It's also a fabulous use of free dining credits. Our meal without the appetizer would have cost right at $100 but because we got the Disney dining plan for free, we were only out the cost of the appetizer and tip!


Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about Be Our Guest!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Packing for Disney: What I'm Packing

By: Lindsey



In the wise words of Kid Rock, "Well I'm packing up my game and I'm a head out..." No, really, I'm currently packing for our upcoming Disney trip. We leave in just a couple of days. It never fails that I always forget something. Always.

Melissa wrote a great post about what she packs for Disney. We pack a little differently since we typically fly to Disney. She has a few great ideas if you have room in your bag!

Within my Disney planning Excel spreadsheet, yes, I know that phrase just gave me complete and total nerd status. I'm okay with that. Anyway, within my Disney planning Excel spreadsheet, I always create a tab for packing. When I randomly think of something that I might not think of while I'm packing, I add it to that sheet. It's saved me a million times. However, like I said before, I always manage to forget something.

Carry-ons:
  • A couple of changes of clothes and shoes for everyone. I don't want lost luggage to require a new wardrobe.
  • Any medications - properly labeled and adhering to the TSA guidelines.
  • Magic Bands - this is an important one if you are staying on property, especially if you are taking the Magical Express to your resort.
  • Paperwork. - Make sure you have confirmation nubmers and any other paperwork you'll need in your carry-on.
  • Camera - I don't trust my camera in a checked bag.
Personal Item:
  • Cell phones
  • Photo ID (for checking in at the airport)
  • Entertainment
    • iPad (or personal device), headphones, laptop, coloring books, etc
  • Snacks (non-sugary)
  • Blanket - you never know how cold it's going to be on the plane.
  • Any special items that your child can't be without. This includes blankets, stuffed animals, toys, etc. They might need them for comfort. Plus you want to make sure they don't get lost. That, my friends, would be a terrible day.
  • Sunglasses
  • Hand santizier - make sure it meets TSA guidelines.
Checked Bags:
  • Clothing
    • When I pack, I try to pack each outfit in a ziplock baggie. It helps keep your bag organized. And if it's raining, it gives your clothes a little extra protection in case your bag gets wet.
    • This is how I pack clothing for a season where you have no idea what you'll need to wear. Layers. T-shirts, cardigans, sweaters, tank tops, shorts, jeans, you name it. We can layer and remove. Or add-on if needed. Anniston's outfits are all sleeveless dresses and such. I pack her leggings and sweaters that she can just throw over them if it's cool and we can go on about our day.
    • If you are like me and don't like to take a week off from working out (even with all the walking at Disney), pack a few workout clothes. If you aren't planning on doing laundry while you are there, pack a couple of extra ziplock baggies to put your sweaty clothes in. Ick.
    • Shoes - bring several options. You'll be walking. A LOT. You'll want more than one option just in case one gets uncomfortable.
  • Toiletries - you know what you need in this section.
    • Something I always forget, hair rubber bands. I always have to triple check that I have these. By the end of the day at Disney, I don't want to mess with my hair.
    • Bandaids of some kind. We prefer moleskins and blister bandaids. But make sure you bring bandaids. Nothing can put a hurt on a trip like a blister can.
  • Bag for park touring (if you used a backpack for your personal item, you can double and use it as this too)
  • Extra Disney magic - small souveniers that you can give your kids without having to spend a small fortune in the parks.
  • Ponchos - I don't want to have to spend my Disney money on this when I have some at home already.
  • Extra batteries for your camera
  • An extra bag - this is for those who plan on buying a ton of souveniers. If you don't think you'll have room in your bag for all your purchases, bring an extra bag. You'll have the extra bag fee at the airport, most likely, but you'll already have the bag ready to go.
This is just a short, general overview of packing. Think through each day and what you might need. But also remember this: there are Walmarts and other stores near Disney. If you forget something, you'll have a chance to buy it.

What do you pack in your bags?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Applying a Discount to Your Disney Reservation

By: Melissa

We’ve all been there. You research, research, research, and finally decide what you want. You look for the best price you can find, and finally purchase. And then the next week, it goes on sale. Personally, I think that’s where the facepalm originated. But what if that happens after you book your Disney vacation?

Do. Not. Panic.



You can apply discounts to your reservation after you’ve booked your vacation!

How does that work? It’s actually pretty easy!

Let’s say you’ve already made reservations for your trip. And a day, week, month later, Disney rolls out discounts that apply to your travel dates. What do you do? Call them! Give the CM your confirmation number and tell them you’re looking for any discounts that may apply to your trip.

Depending on what the offers are, the best discount for you may not be obvious. But the CM will guide you through it, and this is where flexibility is important. There are typically “blackout” dates during the discount period.  If you can adjust your dates by a few days, it might save you a lot of money. If you can’t, you might consider a split stay in order to be able to maximize the discounts available. (A split stay is where you break your trip into two reservations. This could be beneficial to you if your arrival date and a day or two after are in the blackout period, but the rest of your trip is in the discount period. Split stays are pretty common.) The CM will be able to help you decide what discount is best for you and how to maximize it for your trip.

So, how do you find out about discounts? I’m so glad you asked.

Sometimes Disney will send emails or promo materials via snail mail.  Another great resource is the Disney website. If you’re a Disney Visa cardholder, you will actually be notified of upcoming discounts and specials ahead of time, and they’ll be available to you three days before the general public.

Disney generally releases discounts in blocks. It gives people with reservations enough time to apply them, and still allows enough time for those who were considering a trip time to plan and make reservations. They typically have two types of discounts – one for room reservation only, and one for those who have package reservations that include resorts, tickets, and dining. They also offer free dining promotions at certain times of the year (usually in the fall). Which discount is right for you will depend on your family and type of reservation.

It’s important to call as soon as you can when you find out about discounts, because sometimes there are a limited number available, especially when Disney offers the free dining discount. There are a certain number of rooms available for the free dining discount at certain resorts. If they run out of their allotment at the resort you’re staying at, you’re out of luck. However, if you’re willing to switch resorts in order to get free dining, flexibility can save you a lot of money.

I know it sounds confusing. But the bottom line is this: you can still get discounts. Keep your ears open, and just call when you have some time to invest. It may not take long, but you certainly don’t want to be rushed when you’re trying to figure out how to save your family what could be a significant amount of money.

How much money? It varies.  If you have a resort only reservation, you can save up to 30% during discount offerings. If you are able to get free dining, it could be more, depending on your family size. I have a friend who was able to get a discount applied to his reservation that allowed him to upgrade his dining plan and save $1,000. That’s definitely worth a phone call!

The Real Moms all take advantage of discounts, and we talk about them more in our saving & budgeting posts. I’m personally waiting for discounts to roll out for the fall. You can be sure that I’m watching the Disney special offers page and looking for my Disney Visa cardholder email! (Usually, fall discounts roll out mid to late spring.)


Have you been able to secure discounts for your Disney trip? What’s your favorite discount? How much have you saved?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Animal Kingdom Lodge Review

by: Jenna

I can't begin to tell you how excited I was that we were staying onsite this year. I've already written a post about deciding if you want to stay on or off site  and we knew that this time, we definitely wanted to stay onsite.


When we were still in the process of deciding when our next trip would be, Disney released their free dining dates. We immediately knew we wanted to take advantage of that offer so I looked through the list of hotels that were a part of that deal. Originally, we were thinking we would stay at a moderate hotel (I have a full list of all the hotels and their category posted here). We were interested in Port Orleans but it isn't part of the free dining offer. Then we really wanted to go to Caribbean Beach Resort but all of their free dining rooms were already booked (literally, within the first 5 days they were sold out!).

Instead I booked All Star Sports which is a Value resort (more on that here). As we continued to save for our trip we were able to switch over the the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jambo House (AKL). It's generally the least expensive of the deluxe resorts and instead of the quick service dining plan, we were able to get the Disney dining plan (1 quick service, 1 table service and 1 snack per day, plus refillable mug).

Online the AKL is gorgeous. The lobby is absolutely breathtaking and it appears that animals are everywhere. In reality, the lobby is very pretty and while there are lots of viewing areas, we didn't see very many animals. We were there for 7 days and only two or three did we see a giraffe from our room! Thankfully, I took several pictures of those experiences to share!



Speaking of the room itself, it is quite small, but it's fine for us because we don't spend much time there. I do wish there was a pocket door to block off the sink area from the beds because the bath area is too small to change clothing in and a pocket door would give some privacy.





AKL also has 3 restaurants onsite (at Jambo House). Jiko (which take 2 table service credits per person), Boma (1 table service credit per person) and Mara (1 quick service credit per person). We only ate at Mara and I will do a review on it soon!

We've never used the Disney bus system before, so I was a little anxious about it. After numerous trips on the buses I think the longest we ever waited was 25 minutes, but the average wait was probably closer to 8 minutes. We had a couple of instances when we walked right onto a bus!

One thing that you hear everyone talk about is Disney's customer service. I've been coming to Disney parks since I was a little girl and we've always had wonderful experiences. Eventually it seems that you will have a negative one and unfortunately, this was that one time for us. I booked our trip months in advanced and paid for a savannah view. Unfortunately, the first room they put us in faced a fence, not a savannah (certainly not the savannah I requested). When we called the front desk they were rude and unhelpful, and told us the resort was full and they couldn't help us. The next day, we tried again and were told that yes, they had us in the wrong room and would move us while we were at the park! Great! But...that didn't happen. We returned from a lonnnng day at Magic Kingdom to find that now we had no room and our luggage was at bell service!

Finally, we were put in another room which I would consider a very partial savannah view. It again faced a fence but now had a giant structural pole in front of the balcony! Another call downstairs proved frustrating and finally my husband had to speak to the hotel manager to get us moved. Now, if we had just booked a regular room, then either of those would have been fine, but I paid extra for a savannah view. Our third room (pictured in this post) was where we ended up staying.

Our typical view looked like this:

But every once in awhile we would get some wildlife. This picture is zoomed in - if you compare to the one above, you'll see I zoomed in to the far right.

 


Overall Thoughts on AKL:

Customer Service: Needs improvement

Food: Mara was very good

Room itself: Okay (very clean)

Ease of bus service from AKL: Good

Walk to rooms: Not nearly as far as I expected - very easy to get around

View: From the viewing areas in the hotel, the chance of seeing animal was pretty good. From the three rooms we were in, one of them had fairly good animal sightings, but only in the afternoon. 

Overall: I wouldn't stay here again, but if your kids are really into animals, this might just be the place for you!

Tips: I wouldn't waste my money on a savannah view again. If you do decide to stay at AKL I would recommend being away from the lobby, main walking areas and elevator. We were down a quiet hallway and never heard anyone at night!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Family Traditions at Disney World


by: Ashley
During the holiday season it's comforting and heartwarming to experience different traditions with your family. Some have been in the family for decades, and some are new that you've created for your own little family unit. You can make your Disney experiences really special by having "Disney traditions." 


I grew up going to Disney World, and now I take my own family there! We have a few fun things that we've always done together:

-Starting and ending the trip at Magic Kingdom. There's something magical about walking into Magic Kingdom on the first day of the trip and then making it the last thing you see! We've always done this, and that has now carried over to my trips now that I'm married with my own little family. Sometimes it might mean park-hopping or just spending an hour or two to bookend the trip (depending on crowds!), but we ALWAYS start and end with the classic park. 

-Going into Pinnochio Village Haus and waving to people riding "it's a small world." My family (Mom, Dad, and siblings) and I always liked to eat here and get one of the "special tables" overlooking small world. The last couple of trips I've taken with my husband (and children), we've gone inside and taken in the view. I love it!

-Buy a magnet and ornament. My husband and I started buying magnets at special places we've gone, and our plan is to fill up a giant deep freeze someday with all of our magnets. we can still fit them on the fridge right now, but I can't wait to cover a bigger surface with magnets! :) And of course, there's nothing better than decorating your tree with memories year after year!

-My husband and I started this tradition on trips we take alone or when we have a date (while the kids are with one of their grandmothers!): we grab a snack and sit right in the center of Fantasyland and people-watch. IT IS THE BEST!!! I call these moments "Mickey's Premium Moments" because that's the snack Kurt always gets, and it really is what I consider premium time on our vacations. It really is one of my favorite things. Try to take the time to sit and enjoy the details. This is why I love a 5-6 day trip!

-I have to see Beauty and the Beast : Live on Stage a million times each vacation. Belle is my dream role.

-I have to admit.......the Grand Floridian has become a new tradition. :) It's worth it to us to save ahead of time for it. We might not be able to take incredibly frequent Disney trips because of it, but that environment just can't be beat!

-I ALWAYS spend an exorbitent amount of time in the Disney Christmas shops. It's a major problem. But I don't consider it a problem.

-We grab a Dole Whip from Aloha Isle! THE BEST!

-I always say a little something to Cinderella Castle (and if I'm honest, Walt Disney) when we're riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (PeopleMover). It's a beautiful view when you swish by on the ride, and I always think to myself, "See you in a year!" or "Thank you for a wonderful trip!" 

-And finally, because this list could go on forever, a big tradition for me is getting teary-eyed each trip. Something always does it to me! Walking down Main Street, riding one of my favorite classic rides, experiencing something new and awe-inspiring that Disney has created, watching the fireworks, hearing the Monorail guy start his speech, watching my daughter's face literally light up a million times, laughing with my family as we create new memories. Inevitably, each trip, I have a few happy tears. :)

The best part about Disney World is that there are a million new traditions my family can start! I'm so excited to create new and unique traditions for us each time we visit our favorite place.
 
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