Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Five Tips For A Magical Disney World Trip

With the exception of seeing Belle read on stage and Beast's library, I didn't want to go. Crazy crowds, carnival food and endless gift shop navigating with children wasn't my idea of a magical Christmas holiday.

But now I'm a believer. I'd love to share some tips that made our Christmas Holiday one of the happiest trips this side of a public library.  

                 Our Christmas lunch at the Hollywood Brown Derby was dreamy.


Tip #1: Magic Mike 

More thrilling than the movie, let me tell you. Because of tourguidemike, we experienced Disney World  (during their busiest week of the year no less) without crowds, rode every ride we wanted (some multiple times) without long lines, and ate at fabulous restaurants. For less than $25, Mike will tell you which parks to visit and (most importantly) which parks to avoid for the exact dates of your trip.

My favorite Mike Tips are the sample tours he laid out for each park, showing me which rides not to miss and in what order, and how to maximize Fast Passes for rides you love. We wouldn't know about secret trails, spectacular shows, and the Passports for the World Showcase without his expert advice. 

If you take advantage of tourguidemike.com, you'll see most everything you want in the morning, have a restful afternoon back at your hotel, and feel energized to come back in the evening to enjoy the parades and fireworks. I won't say the trip was relaxing - early morning adventures that require multiple alarm clocks are not my idea of relaxing. But Mike made the trip less stressful because we had a plan and it worked, rather than tense wandering around with the crowds. 

You may be asking yourself, surely everyone knows about tourguidemike by now, so how will his plan work? I thought the same thing, and can confirm that seemingly no one knows about him. Either that, or everyone decided to ignore his advice, sleep in, and go as a massive crowd later in the day.

Tip #2: Shop Before You Stay.

I filled up a suitcase with Disney items that I purchased at our local Disney Store. Perry The Platypus and Little Mermaid blankets, Minnie and Mickey pj's, fabulous Goofy jackets, Wipe-Out t-shirts, lanyards and trading pins (I found these online), plus their favorite character stuffed animals - each morning I put one out on their bed before waking up the children. Your local Disney store has most of same merchandise for 1/3 of the price that you'll pay in the parks. 

         Celebrating Christmas at Disney World? Bring a tree and decorate your hotel room.

THE BEAUTY OF GIFT CARDS. Grandma Sally and sweet cousins gave the children gift cards - and those cards saved us stressful hassles that I continually overheard from other children and parents in every gift shop you must pass through as you're leaving a ride or attraction. 

The children learned valuable lessons on how to spend - they thoughtfully considered what they wanted to purchase and I'm happy to report the gift cards still have money on them to use at our local Disney store. 

Want to completely eliminate hassles in gift shops? Purchase gift cards, hand them to the kids at the beginning of the vacation and tell them when the card runs out, their spending at gift shops is over. Watch with wonder as they ponder if a plastic sword is really worth $18, decide that it isn't since the gift card only has $45 left on it, and they may want something from the fabulous gift shop at The Muppet Vision 3D.  They do this completely on their own - you can stand back and smile. Totally magical, I tell you.

Tip #3: Laundry While Lounging.

We stayed at the Port Orleans Riverside and took advantage of their gorgeous pools with laundry rooms attached to the pool bathrooms. I was able to read and catch up on laundry while watching my kids make new friends. Perfection, but I should note that hubby found my bird bible - all 20 pounds of it - a tad embarrassing. Maybe next year I'll bring a smaller read. Did I just say next year

Tip #4: Smart and Stylish Shoes.

Each morning on the bus I would notice what other visitors were wearing on their feet and you may be shocked by what I spied: flip flops, high heels, cowboy boots, even an occasional glass slipper or two. We would sit by some of these families on the ride back to the hotel and without reservation they would be complaining about tired tootsies. Plan carefully around your footwear. I found these and swear they are the most comfortable, stylish sneakers ever. You might want a second pair in case your shoes get wet - a common circumstance if you love Splash Mountain as much as I did. I mostly loved these, but they inflicted a blister.

Tip #5: The Real Treasure Is At Your Library

The magic of Disney lives at your local library. You and your children will enjoy the parks on a deeper level and swoon over the characters if you know the stories.  I may have shed a tear or two when I spotted Mary Poppins in the Christmas Parade. The basis of our emotional connection to Disney and their characters comes from the stories you can find in your local library. The best part? Borrowed beauty from the library means the magic never has to end. Share a story with your children tonight. Our library favorite: Birnbaums' Walt Disney World For Kids.

Read these books and then visit Tom Sawyer Island - the children loved exploring here.

Have some Disney tips? Please share!

xoxo Michele

Why buy happiness when your library shares it. Free music downloads through Freegal E-books, audio-books, and digital downloads are at your local library, just visit here or your local library website for complete information.