Friday, March 22, 2013

Freebies and Cheapies at the World of the Diz

Yes, you can!! things at Disney for free or on the cheap.  My parents live in Florida, about 45 minutes from Disney World.  So just about every time we visit them, which is usually at least twice a year, we go to Disney.  We don't go go to Disney as in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios, but we go do some of our favorite free and or cheap things you can do outside of the parks.  Here are a few of those ideas...

1.  Ride the monorail resort line. 
The Grand Floridian. 
This is a monorail loop that makes 4 stops at 3 different Magic Kingdom hotels.  (the 4th and 5th stop being at the ticket and transportation center and the MK).  It makes hotel stops at The Grand Floridian, The Contemporary (it actually stops INSIDE this hotel) and the Polynesian Hotel.  We sometimes will get off at each hotel and explore.  Disney hotels can be a complete destination in and of themselves.  Which leads me to my next free idea...

2.  Hotel Hop. 
big cow type animal behind Animal Kingdom Lodge
As I just said, Disney Hotels are cool.  They are intricately decorated and each has a different theme.  One of our favorites is The Animal Kingdom Lodge.  First of all, it's just a massive, beautiful hotel decorated with a African theme.  Just walking in to the lobby is awe inspiring.  If you walk out back, they have a mini savannah with live animals like zebra, giraffes, wildebeests, gazelles, pelicans and usually this really large cow type animal with enormous horns who's name I cannot remember.   Another favorite of our is the Grand Floridian.  It is a beautiful Victorian themed hotel.  There is a white sandy beach on a lagoon with chairs for you to lounge in and wooden bench swings.  There is usually a pianist playing in the lobby or an old timey band.  And then you can just hop on the monorail from there.  Another neat hotel to visit is The Wilderness Lodge and the Boardwalk which leads me to...

3.  Visit the Boardwalk near Epcot. 
inside the hotel at the Boardwalk
Not only is the attached hotel neat to look at and explore, there is an Atlantic City themed boardwalk out back complete with shops, restaurants, games and sidewalk shows.  It's right on a lake (I forget the name, shame on me as a Disney nerd).  You can walk around the lake to the sandy beaches of 2 more neat hotels, The Yatch and Beach Club.  Sitting here on the beach is a great place to watch the nightly fireworks they show at Epcot (Illuminations).  You can't really hear the music like you could if you were actually in Epcot, but you can see the fireworks just fine.  And you can sit on the beach while doing it.  And it's FREE!!  And they are awesome fireworks.  There's another neat thing you can do at the Boardwalk and that leads me to...

4.  Rent a surrey bike. 
A surrey bike.  Not the best pic of yours truly, but what can ya
do.  I'm dedicated to showing you a pic of a surrey bike and
this was all I could find. And I got tired of looking through all my
TONS of Disney pics.
What's a surrey bike you might ask.  Well, it's like a little carriage on wheels, that you have to pedal.  You can get on with one or two benches.  There are pedals in the front and back for everyone to share the load.  If you have a kid small enough, they can sit in the front basket.  It's a big basket.  You can actually fit 2 small kids in there.  We had a 6 and 4 year old in there once, together.  It's a big, strong basket.  There is a path to ride the bikes around the boardwalk and past the Yatch and Beach club.  There are many places you can rent surrey bikes at Disney.  We've rented them before at the Boardwalk and at Port Orleans Riverside Hotel.  You don't have to be a guest there to rent a bike.  Now, obviously, renting a bike is not free, but it's cheap.  I actually can't remember the number right now, but trust me, if it weren't cheap, we wouldn't have done it. 

Since this post is already getting kinda lengthy, I am going to stop for now.  There are many more free and cheap things to do at Disney.  I will write more later.  For now, this'll have to hold you over.  In the meantime, if you have any free or cheap tips, pass it on and I'll include it in my next post. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

To Swim or Not to Swim

On our first extended trip to WDW, we stayed at Port Orleans Riverside (and have ever since.). They have a pretty neat pool.  Actually, all the Disney hotel pools are neat.  They are an attraction in and of themselves.  However, on that first trip, we had spent all this money on park tickets that I didn't want to "waste" time at the pool.  We did anyway.  My girls love the pool.  Any pool really, but this one had water falls and a water slide.  And it was at Disney.  Who can argue? 

Even though we did swim a little, I kept telling the girls that one trip we would come and stay at a Disney hotel and just swim.  No parks, just pool time.  Maybe a water park. 

Well, that trip was about 3 years ago.

Last summer, we did it.  We returned to "our" hotel with the express purpose of just swimming.  It was nice.  We did go to Typhoon Lagoon.  They loved that.  But my hus and I really loved just chillin by the pool.  Not feeling like we had to rush off somewhere to be sure we got our money's worth. 
There is so much to do at Disney without going into a park and the pool is at the top of our list.  I'd like to do that again sometime.  It was fun.  We were at Disney. 

These pictures are from that first extended Disney trip, 3 years ago, the one where I didn't want to spend time swimming but did anyway. 

My now 5 year old, then only 2 (but almost 3). 

My then 5 year old (now almost 8).  We were at Disney to celebrate her 5th birthday.  She turned 5 on 5/05.

My then 7 now 10 year old going down the water slide at the pool at Port Orleans Riverside hotel.  Look how cute she was complete with goggles!  Gotta have the goggles!

Monday, February 25, 2013

There's an App for That

I have several disney apps on my phone. 9 to be exact. 5 of those are for use on trips to WDW. They have maps, wait times for rides and even some park news. Having jus been to Disney I was able to try out my newest (and Disney's newest) WDW app. This is an official Walt Disney World app. The other apps I have for use in the parks are from a 3rd party, not Disney. That's not to say that they are not useful, just not put out by Disney.

So anyway, my new app is now my favorite. It's called "My Disney Experience." It has maps of each park and even one of the whole Disney property. Using GPS, it can even show you where you are and direct you to where you want to go. It also shows accurate wait times so you know if its worth going across the park for a particular ride. It'll show you where you can find various characters, what restaurants are close by, parade and show times and locations, where the nearest restroom is and many other things. You may say that there are other apps that do the same thing but I think this one is the easiest to navigate and most reliable. I used it a lot while we were there.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Disney 2013-a

We just got back from another trip to WDW.  So who wants to see the 300+ pictures I took??!!  Just kiddin'.  I won't do that to you.  But I will tell you a little bit about it. 

It was a lot of fun but too short.  We were only in the parks for 2 days.  I knew it was going to be short, but it was way short.  We (I) felt rushed.  And then exhausted from all the rushing. Tip #11;  If you have the time, stay at least 4 days. If you don't have the time, maybe wait until you do (that'll give you more time to save too.)  It was still good though.  Since our kids are still young and we've been going to Disney as a family since they were even younger (this was my 10 year olds 5th time, 7 year olds 4th time and 5 year olds 3rd time) every time we go, there is something new they want to do.  For us, that is mostly due to the fact that we don't have many thrill seekers in the family and the fact that our girls have historically been scaredy cats.  That's fine with me though.  My hus and I both don't care for roller coasters or thrill rides.  I will never ride Tower of Terror or the Rockin' Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios.  I will never ride Mt. Everest at Animal Kingdom.  I will never (again) even ride Space Mountain.  (I do like Big Thunder Mountain though). 

This year, we added Test Track and Soarin' at Epcot.  We haven't ridden these before mostly because of the lines.  This time, we got fast passes and walked right on. (Yeah for fast passes!  If you are unfamiliar with these, become familiar before you go).   They loved Soarin'. My 7 year old almost threw up on Test Track.  Proof that she may join the ranks of the non thrill ride club with her mom and dad.  My 5 year old yells out in the middle of the ride that if it doesn't stop soon, she was going to pee in her pants.  I couldn't tell if she was just trying to be funny or not, but she didn't pee.  Thank goodness.  So the 7 year old and I had to sit down for a bit after the ride and let her tummy catch up with the rest of her.  She did not throw up. 

We got to see the new Fantasy Land at Magic Kingdom.  It was a bit too crowded to get to explore it the way I would have wanted too, but it was neat.  Despite the crowds, we got to do almost everything we wanted to.  I think Peter Pan was the only ride we didn't get to do.  It'll be another couple years before we go back to the parks and spend any significant time.  Next time, I'd like to go for a good bit longer than just 2 days.  We will be back down in Florida this summer to visit my parents.  While there, I'm sure we'll make it over to Disney and do the non park things.  We do that almost every time we go to FL.  That'll have to hold us over until we can "do" Disney again. 
Sigh.  I do love Disney. 

A family picture with the Mouse himself. 
The best picture of the 300+ I took (though a little blurry.  iphone.)  My 5 year old kept covering her eyes (and ears) while my 7 year old drove on the Tomorrowland Speedway, all the while, the 7 year old had mad concentration. The 5 year old kept thinking she was going to crash us.
Epcot is my favorite park.  Tip #12; Contrary to popular belief, Epcot is great for little kids too. We told our kids that with only 2 days, they had to choose 2 parks to visit.  Of the 4, of course MK was #1 but #2, they chose Epcot. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


This past year, I applied for a position on the Disney Parks Moms Panel. In case you are unfamiliar, the Moms Panel is a place where you can go and ask questions of a panel of 19 moms (and dads) about planning your next Disney vacation. The advice the moms give is based on their own experience and expertise on all things Disney.

To be on the moms panel (they choose 19 out of 14,000 applicants), you have to know a lot about Disney. From what I understand, the interview process, should you make it that far, is pretty intense. Though I've been to Disney literally 100s of times as a child/teen and have been quite a few times with my own family, I'm not confident I know enough to beat out 13,981 other applicants. Still, I think it would be fun. I like to talk about it. I feel I do have good advice and tips to offer on planning a Disney trip. And if I don't know the answer, I'm pretty sure I could find it. (I have certain resources).

I'll apply again this year. They take new applicants every September. I still have to beat out those darn 13,981 other folks though.

So, in the meantime, I'm starting my own, Mom (singular) Panel. If you are planning a trip to Disney and have a question, feel free to ask me. I might know the answer, maybe I won't. Maybe my friend, Alicia (a fellow Disney fanatic) can answer. Maybe we'll just have fun talking about it. I need to practice for when I apply again in September for the official Moms Panel.

We have another trip to Disney planned for next month. It'll be a short trip but we are super excited. Even my hus is excited, though he won't admit it with the gusto that the kids and I do.

*Disclaimer: Nothing on this page is "official" Disney info. This is all from my own experience or gathered from other non-official Disney sources. However, if any info on this page has been collected from an official Disney site or source, I will indicate so. Don't get mad at me if you read something on this page to be inaccurate.