Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tips From a Local Mom, Part 1

By: Melissa and Guest, Brittany

I'm so excited to welcome our guest, Brittany, today. She is a long-time friend and an Orlando local. Brittany was gracious enough to share some great tips with us - and had so much to share that we've broken this into two posts! Don't miss Part 2 on Tuesday!

RMD: What is your favorite thing about living near Disney World?

Brittany: Hands down, my favorite thing about living near Disney World is having annual passes. I love that we don’t have to go from open to close and try to squeeze in every nuance of the park to get our money’s worth. It is such a blessing to be able to hop over for a few hours, have some fun, and then leave when the kids start to reach that cranky/tired stage. A great bonus is that my hubby and I get to steal away for Disney dates every once and a while. It’s fun to be kids ourselves once and a while!

RMD: How often do you go to Disney as a family? What’s your favorite time of year, and what’s your favorite park?

Brittany: We try to go over to the parks at least two to four times a month. This handy little crowd calendar helps me plan our trips. Because of the great Florida weather, we love going to the parks most in February, March, and April. The summer is bearable, but we only go mornings or evenings to avoid the suffocating heat. If you can get to Disney during the holidays (especially during Christmas season), the decorations are fantastic and you must schedule some time to tour both the parks and the Disney resorts by monorail. My favorite park is definitely Magic Kingdom, but it is also the busiest, so Animal Kingdom is at the top of the list, too!

RMD: Do you have a favorite Disney place to eat?

Brittany:  If it is just my husband and me, my favorite place to go is Teppan Edo in Epcot. I am a sucker for delicious hibachi restaurants (the white sauce!). If it’s the family, here are my three favorite options: cheap: Columbia Harbour House (great chicken fingers, plus grapes and yogurt with the kids meals), mid-range: Be Our Guest Restaurant for the quick-service lunch (tip: Eat lunch around 10:30am and you will be able to get in without a wait and The Master’s Cupcake is the “grey stuff” from the Be Our Guest song in the movie), expensive: It’s a toss up between the Crystal Palace and Cinderella’s Castle. The food is great at both; it just depends on the experience you would like.

RMD: What do you wish every family visiting Disney knew?

Brittany: Don’t come to the park with a list of 30 things you have to do before you leave. Even if you live far away, have realistic expectations for your family. Plan to relax and just enjoy being there. It breaks my heart to see families who have saved for years to be able to come try to fit everything in and they are just miserable. It’s a magical place - make happy memories.

RMD: What’s your favorite non-Disney place/activity to recommend to visiting friends?

  • 4Rivers Barbeque is delicious. It’s about a 30 minute drive from the Disney area, but SO worth it.
  • Wonder Works is a lot of fun for the whole family.
  •  SAK Comedy Club is a great date night if you can sneak away (make sure you go on a family night for appropriate content).
  • There is a brand new American Girl Store at the Florida Mall – you can take your daughters and have lunch in the cafĂ© (make reservations!).
  • It is still Disney related, but we LOVE playing mini-golf at Fantasia Gardens. My husband and I have pretty intense competitions on the more realistic course, but they have a fun one for the kids, also. Near the same area is another fun mini-golf course called Winter Summerland.
  •  If you have kids who love go-carts, Fun Spot is a great place to stop.

Don't miss Part 2, where Brittany will share her must-do list for each park and favorite secrets/tips!

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