COVID has changed the way we travel – there’s no doubt about it. One thing that I found to be a game-changer is packing light and bringing carry-on only. I used to bring the maximum amount of suitcases allowed, but no more!!!
I’m giving you the rundown on the most valuable pieces of clothing you’ll need for your next getaway so you can save precious time and breeze right by that baggage collection carousel.
Oversized button down shirt
This versatile, oversized button-down shirt is great to wear as a swimsuit coverup or with denim shorts. This fav from Banana Republic is comfortable and perfect to shade you from the sun.
Heading to Walt Disney World with young children can be both exciting and exhausting. The following tips should help make your trip more enjoyable for not just the kids, but parents too!
Gazing at Cinderella Castle
1. Plan to arrive at the parks early and return to your resort around lunch for a nap and swim. If you are up for it, return to one of the parks in the evening.
2. Protect yourself from the hot Florida sun: Bring hats, sunscreen and drink lots of water to keep hydrated. Pack a small cooler with water and snacks (you are allowed to bring food and drink into the parks!) to keep your energy levels up.
3. Bring a stroller. Even a five-year-old will be thankful to ride in one–it’s a lot of walking. Make sure you have plenty of storage room for carrying purchases and more. I would suggest bringing a stroller that is comfortable to push, as cheap umbrella strollers can wreak havoc on your back.
4. Make some character dining reservations–an easy, but sometimes expensive, way to meet characters without waiting in line ups. You can make dining reservations online 180 days prior to your trip. For more information on making your reservations, check out this handy article.
5. Bring an autograph book and a pen. For about $10 you can purchase an autograph book for characters to sign. Makes a wonderful and inexpensive souvenir!
6. Use a touring plan. It will help you determine which attractions you should head to first (according to wait times), and will help you save a lot of time. This is key with small children. Check out Touring Plans or Undercover Tourist for more information.
After a long day, or in our case a morning, at the park, it’s great to find a place to unwind. Luckily, there are many options to find an afternoon diversion, likely at your resort.
Grab a bite to eat and watch your kids splash the day away. Disney is incredible at making everything fun for kids, and even a day away from the parks can be “the best day ever.” Cast members hang out poolside in the afternoons with a whole agenda of fun activities for young ones, including pool scavenger hunts and dance parties. Poolside bars offer interesting menus–I enjoyed a watermelon, feta and arugula salad one afternoon–yum!
Water works Rent a boat or catamaran to view the “World” from the water. You may find discounts on rentals if you purchase a Magic Your Way package (accomodations and tickets, with or without a Disney Dining Plan).
Unwind with a Disney flick
By night, catch a movie under the stars–by far one of my favourite ways to unwind after a long day at the parks. You can even view movie schedules of the various resort options online. I have to admit, I had the Grand Floridian’s week-long schedule printed out before we even arrived!
Lagoon with a view
If you happen to be on the Monorail line surrounding the Seven Seas Lagoon, you can catch the nightly Electrical Water Pageant. This quirky diversion is a sight to see, and as of last May, had an interesting soundtrack (think Casio keyboard meets The Little Mermaid).
What’s your favourite way to unwind after a long day at the parks?
One of the most important things to do when planning your trip to WDW…Making your dining reservations. If you are counting on enjoying character dining experiences, or meals at the better on-site restaurants at decent times, you will need to plan your reservations early.
From 180 days in, you can make your reservations online or by telephone (407-WDW-DINE) for most table-service restaurants. Luckily, you can modify and cancel your reservations so that you can create your touring plans, and ensure that your reservations fit in with your overall vacation plan. When planning our first trip back in May, and in a quest to plan a perfect trip, I probably made, edited and cancelled over 30 reservations. We ended up keeping six.
You will only need reservations for table-service restaurants, which offer a more formal dining environment. Quick-service restaurants are available too, and are great alternatives to a sit-down meal when you’re on the go.
Gasparilla Island Grill
We frequented a few quick-service restaurants during our recent stay–Gasparilla Island Grill, at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa; Pecos Bill’s in Magic Kingdom; and the new and elaborate Be Our Guest restaurant in Magic Kingdom, which operates for lunch as a quick-service establishment (table-service by night–make your reservations early!).
Making your reservations for certain restaurants is more important than others. For example, if the Disney princesses are your kind of thing, you will want to make your Cinderella’s Royal Table reservations as soon as you have your trip confirmed. This is a “premium” character dining experience (at more than $50 per child, and even more for an adult!) that takes place within the magic of Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom.
Breakfast at Cindy’s
A few other tips–I would suggest making dining reservations early for restaurants located within the parks. An 8 a.m. reservation at Cindy’s means that you will most definitely be able to beat the mad rush of families lined up at the entry turnstiles, waiting for rope drop at 9 a.m.
Another note about reservations–making them online can be a time saver, but can also turn into a source of insomnia for some die-hard planners.
Character dining is great if you are heading to WDW with small children (and even enthusiasts like me!). While it can be expensive, character dining provides you with an opportunity to meet with several Disney characters at one sitting, without waiting in the hot Florida sun to greet them.
Expect to pay $20 to $50 for breakfast, or $30 to $60 for dinner. In my opinion, it was worth it. We especially enjoyed our brunch at 1900 Park Fare (located at the Grand Floridian), which allowed us to “meet” Mary Poppins and Alice (of Wonderland fame) among others.
Mary & Me
One last tip–making reservations for the night you arrive is not a good idea. I would suggest grabbing a quick bite at a table-service or quick-service restaurant at your resort so that you’re not bound by time and location. This will give you more time to enjoy the parks or the pool on your first day.
There are so many options to choose from when staying on property at WDW. A couple of my favourite restaurants included the Grand Floridian Café, Ohana at the Polynesian Resort, and Via Napoli in Epcot.
I’ll provide full reviews in future blog posts, so stay tuned!