Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tips From a Local Mom, Part 2

By: Melissa and Guest, Brittany

Brittany is back, and is sharing her must-dos and favorite tips! If you missed Part 1, be sure to check out some of Brittany's favorite places to eat, some great non-Disney activities, and what she wishes every family visiting Disney knew!

RMD: What is on your must-do list in each park?

Brittany: Before going to any park you absolutely MUST get fast passes. If you have an annual pass or a scheduled vacation, take the time to make reservations. If you want to see Anna/Elsa, ride the Dwarf Mine Train, or even ride Peter Pan, standby most days is almost two hours or more, so reserve your fast passes as soon as you can!
Here are some of my favorite things at each park:

Magic Kingdom:
  • YOU MUST get a Pineapple Float at Aloha Isle.
  • Dumbo now has an awesome playground in the middle of the line to help pass the time (we often go just for the playground), and bonus – it’s air-conditioned!
  • It’s A Small World – I’ve ridden it a hundred times and still love it, it’s a classic!

Animal Kingdom:
  • The Safari is my absolute favorite thing at this park – but get a fast pass!
  • Don’t miss the Lion King Show, either.
  • The pizza at Pizzafari is really good and it comes with a great Caesar salad. The restaurant also has a bathroom in it, a great feature for parents.
  • My kids absolutely love the Wilderness Explorers program. When you become a “member” (it’s free!) they give you a book and you collect badges at stations all over the park. There are 31, so you can’t do them all in one day, but you can bring your book back each visit to collect them all!


  • Epcot is my least favorite park, however, as a homeschooling mom – it’s great! We visit countries that correlate with our geography lessons and the kids love getting to eat food from that country!
  • If you can, make time to visit the Flower and Garden Festival (March – May). The foliage has the magical Disney flair, you can pick up some neat Disney gardening tools, and talk with gardening experts from all over the nation.
  • In early 2016, a brand-new Norway exhibit and ride set in fictional Arendelle will be opening (Anna and Elsa!) and that is supposed to be a great new addition – we are looking forward to it!

Hollywood Studios:

  • Don’t waste your fast passes on the shows (except the one I mention below). Your seating is not that much better than stand-by (most of the time you go in at the same time), so save them for the rides.
  • Toy Story Mania is fun for the family – we have a friendly competition going on between this ride and the Buzz Lightyear at MK.
  • I really like the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, too, but my kids aren’t tall enough yet!
  • For a limited time, the Cinderella Carriage that was used in the upcoming live action movie is set up in the park; it is pretty neat to see.
  • The Frozen Sing-a-Long is a great show! My kids LOVED it and I will admit, I belted out the lyrics with the best of them. The finale has some great special effects, which was my husband’s favorite part. (This would be a show I think I would get a Fast Pass for. They let the FP holders go in before the standby, and I think it’s worth it.)

RMD: What’s your favorite Disney secret/tip to share?

  • You can watch the fireworks on the beach at the Polynesian for free (take the monorail over) and my favorite part – they sell the Pineapple floats there too!
  •  My kids have always gotten their first haircut at the Magic Kingdom Barbershop. They do a special first haircut package including Mickey ears with “first haircut” embroidered on the back. Best of all? Its $15. Also, you can stop by for some free pixie dust in your hair any time. You’re welcome moms - you will be shampooing out glitter for weeks.
  •  The baby care station is awesome. They have one in all four parks. They have really nice change stations, high chairs, bottle warmers, private nursing rooms, TVs playing Disney shows for your older kids to take a break, and you can even pick up an extra diaper or two in the small on-site shop.
  • If you are celebrating a special occasion (anniversary, birthday, etc.) or it’s your first visit, stop by the guest service area and get a free button. The cast members will help you celebrate your day throughout the park!
  • Most of the cast members keep a stash of Mickey stickers in their pockets and pass them out quite liberally. Its not a visit to Disney unless your kids leave covered in one hundred Mickeys.
  • Cast members will trade pins with you if you ask!
  • You can drive the riverboat if you ask to go to the captain’s quarters and they’ll give you a captain’s certificate.
  • They hide paintbrushes in Tom Sawyer Island for you to find and take to a cast member.
  • If you pick up the phone in Tomorrowland, you will hear a conversation.
  • There is a mailbox on Main Street to mail letters and postcards to friends and family.
  • The monorail drivers carry cards with the different monorails on them. You can get and trade them.
  • If you ask a cast member nicely, they might let you wake up Jose, the talking parrot who starts the show in the Enchanted Tiki Room.
  • If you are riding the train at MK, ask the conductor if you could ride in the tender seat (up front).
  • If you buy a balloon at Disney and it pops, show them the popped remnants and you will get a new one for free!
  • If you lose your autograph book, tell a cast member and they will get you a new one and have all of their character friends sign it for you! (Likewise, if you buy a Disney pen and it dies, the shop will switch it out for you!)
  • Adults can buy kids meals and it will save you tons of money! Their new healthy kids meals come with a lot of food.
  • Try and ride rides during the parades for shorter wait times and often they try to start the parades about 15 minutes early.
  • Do not do character dining if your kids are scared of characters. It hinders the characters from being able to do their job best. Test your kiddos out on meet and greets first and see how they do. 
  • Most kids will take to the face characters (like Mary Poppins or princesses) faster than the furry ones.
  • If you show up at the Magic Kingdom entrance at 8:30am, a train full of characters will greet you!
  • Certain characters will ride their rides with you at the beginning of the day: Alice and the White Rabbit, the Tremaine Family, and Aladdin and Jasmine. It makes for AWESOME photos!

Many thanks to Brittany for joining us at Real Mom's Disney with a Local Mom's perspective!

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