Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Totally Unsolicited Disney Advice (from a girl who wishes she were going with you!)

My family is just a wee bit Disney-obsessed. I marvel at God's wisdom for planting us right in the middle between Califonia and Florida (geographyphiles, grant me some grace...). It's been a few years since we've been able to go as a family, and as I see facebook posts about some of my friends about to embark, I'm filled with a sweet bit of envy, and an insatiable need to dispense advice, whether wanted or not.
Yes, I know there are all kinds of guide books and websites out there, but some things need a little personal touch. So, for all who might care to partake, here are my top 5  tips for your family's DisneyWorld vacation:

1. Unless you need to haul around a diaper bag (and truthfully, my #1 tip would be to leave any child under the age of 4 at home...) don't bring a purse/backpack into the park. Your park pass, a debit card, phone/camera and a bottle of sunscreen is all you need to start your day. Get everybody into a pair of cargo shorts, and dispense these throughout the pockets. You'll get into the park faster, because you won't have to go through the bag-check line, and you won't be messing with a bag. Also, if you aren't offended by their existence, go for Crocs as your shoe of choice. They're comfortable and, more importantly, water-proof, especially if you're headed to the Florida park. Orlando downpours are brutal!

2. If you're staying on site, get the meal plan. You will save money in the end. And, unless you're a total foodie, forego the more expensive restaurant experiences. The counter service meals throughout the four parks are amazing. Trust me, you're not going to be limited to hamburgers and chicken nuggets unless you want to be. My personal recommendations from park to park are...
Magic Kingdom--Breakfast at the TomorrowLand Terrace
MGM Studios--Pizza Planet Veggie Pizza
EPCOT--The Sandwich shop in Norway-OR-Sunshine Seasons--great variety, and a cool experience
Animal Kingdom--Yak and Yeti (I've had dreams about the Honey Chicken)

For those headed to California...our first stop in the park is always Bengal Bar-B-Q in Adventure Land. Very yummy skewers of various meats and veggies. Also, a MUST is the Dole Whip pineapple "sherbet" (?) outside of the Tiki Room.

Obviously, not a professional shot!
3.  Absolutely let the park photographers take family portraits for you. They can do fun things, like blur out the background, etc., and they know exactly how to position you for the best picture. They'll give you a little card with a bar code on it, so you can check your pictures out later and buy or not buy as you wish. Totally worth it to get that one, perfect 8x10 for the frame you'll buy at the giftshop.

4.  If you buy no other souvenir, buy a picture frame at a giftshop. Also, realize that the Disney Emporium either at Downtown Disney or on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom has just about every single souvenir, T-shirt, hat, photo album that can be found in the multitude of other, smaller gift shops. You can get all your shopping done in one stop, if that's your thing.

5. Absolutely buy the little box of short bread cookies (I think they're stll only, like, 1.50/box). I always like these for a final Disney snack on the plane ride home.

So....have fun. Get a fast pass for me, and post your pics on Facebook!! Also, if you have tips of your own, please leave a comment. It's a small world, after all!

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