Monday, March 14, 2016

Disney World 2016: My Tips & Suggestions Part I

Travel, Hotel & Lounge Days:

Animal Kingdom:

Blizzard Beach & Disney Springs

If you follow me on SnapChat: (LaurenRebecca44) then you know what an amazing vacation we had!

I was originally going to just post our vacation photos and give some details about our trip, but I've had so many inquiries on how we plan and people asking for tips and recommendations for traveling there with little toddlers/babies that I thought it would be even better to give a little insight into how I plan our Disney World trips. For any of you that are not aware, Disney has changed a lot over the last 10 years or so. You can no longer go to Disney without planning ahead of time. And if you do, you will be missing out tremendously as well as wasting an abundance of time. I am lucky enough to know a Disney Travel Agent that is pretty amazing at what she does. She also happens to be my sister. She has helped us plan so many of our trips that I am pretty informed about how the Disney trip planning goes now. A lot of people have gone to the website and been completely confused. It's a lot, I get it. But it's really not as difficult as you many think. And having someone help you plan your first couple of trips there is the best way to go. At the end of this post I will give you my planner's information. She will also be guest posting here in the next week or so giving all of her tips and tricks. My vacations to Disney are completely planned out day by day months before we leave. Because of this, my vacations are amazingly stress-free and enjoyable. This doesn't mean you can't be spontaneous at times, it just means that you HAVE to have planning involved in your Disney trip or you will waste time and money as well as add stress to your trip. Over the last 4 years, I've gone to Disney 3 times. We stayed at the Beach Club Resort Here and here, Animal Kingdom's Resort here and here. We are Disney Vacation Club members now but we weren't when we first started going to Disney.

This post will mostly be referring to our stay at the Polynesian Resort. First off, if you are debating on staying in a Disney resort or not, let me tell you that if you are planning on mostly doing parks, you definitely SHOULD stay at a Disney resort. They make is extremely simple to get around that it's a no brainer when it comes to staying on Disney grounds or not. There are resorts at all different price points so there is no need to stay outside of Disney if you are worried about cost.

The Polynesian is one of my favorite resorts. We had amazing weather! Not one drop of rain the entire time. As soon as we got there I was drawn into the tropical atmosphere and beauty of the resort. There are 2 pools and hot tubs there as well as a beach area and dock with boat rentals. There are two restaurants there as well: Ohana and Kona Cafe along with a small quick service location and 2 or 3 bars/lounges. Keep in mind that even if you don't stay at the Polynesian Resort, you can still visit the resort and beach area, rent the boats or dine at the restaurants. That is what I love about Disney; you can visit any of the resorts amenities besides pools and hot tub areas. We usually plan to dine at least one restaurant a day, sometimes in the parks and often at other resorts to experience different eats and atmospheres. But another reason to hire an agent is they can help you with booking those reservations on the days you are going to certain parks or near them. For instance, if you want to eat at the Grand Floridian one day, you should plan that on a day that you are going to the Magic Kingdom. Why? Because it's close to there and transportation is easiest. A disney planner will know all of these things and can help you with this. Not all agents are equally as helpful. This is why I am partial to my planner. Not just because she is my sister, but because she has been to Disney more times than she can count and she knows the ins and outs of that place.

On this trip, the places we dined were: Ohana at the Polynesian Resort, Yak & Yetti in Animal Kingdom, The Garden Grill in Epcot, Cinderella's Table at the Magic Kingdom, Earl's Sandwiches in Disney Springs, Kona Cafe in the Polynesian, Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom, Akershus at Epcot and we purchased tickets to the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show.  There are SO many options of places to dine. I have yet to try every place. We purchase the meal plans when we go. The reason being is that we love to dine out when we vacation. The restaurants and cafes can be pricey if you pay cash, but the meal plans work out to be less expensive if you do them right. Again, getting an agent to guide you in this area is a MUST. You can waste money by buying too many dining options or too little. You can go onto Disney's website and view ALL of their restaurants and pricing to see which places you want to dine at.

We arrived on a Thursday evening.  I planned our flight during a nap time so as soon as we got onto the plane, Maxwell fell asleep and Scarlett watched movies. We always fly JetBlue and I'm never disappointed. The tv's keep the little ones busy. This time we purchased extra leg room seats in the very front. It was nice to be the first off of the plane and the extra leg room gave us more room to get up with the kids to hit the bathrooms. I don't bring a ton of items with us on the planes for the kids. It just takes up space in our carry-ons. I brought Scarlett a pad of paper and some crayons and Maxwell a couple of books and a chew toy. Scarlett mostly watched tv/movies anyhow. JetBlue also has FlyFi which is wifi for planes.

Our flight left New York at 4:20 pm. As soon as we landed, we strapped on our Magic Bands (these bands do everything for you) and headed to the Magical Express, a station at the airport solely for those going to Disney resorts. The magic bands are waterproof bands that they mail to you a couple weeks prior to your vacation. They allow you to ride the Magical Express, get into your room without having to check in at the main desk, get into parks, ride fast passes and even purchase anything, including meal plans. You literally don't need your wallet except for your license if you want to drink.  We rode the magical Express to the Polynesian and got settled in. It was 9:00 pm by the time we did that so we just relaxed and got a good night's rest. The next day we took what I call a "Relax Day". Disney is a busy place and it's go, go, go when you are there. I highly suggest one or two days to just relax and chill out. It helps the kids destress from all of the stimulation. Last time we did this in the middle of the week and I really liked that. It gave us a break. This time, we had been so busy with life prior to our trip that we did it on our first day there. We lounged by the pool, rode boats, drank drinks out of pineapples and played in the sand. Most all of the pool areas have activity coordinators that do activities and games with the kids during the day hours. This is great because it kept Scarlett occupied while we got some sun in the lounge chairs. Later in the day, they also roast marshmallows and most resorts have a movie night outside either on the beach or in a common. Take advantage of these fun activities. The kids love them. My Disney agent also informed me that the hotel pools allow baby floats as long as there are not sun covers on them. I brought one for Maxwell and he LOVED playing in it in the water. I bought this one here.

On day 2 we went to the Animal Kingdom. Scarlett is really into the Lion Guard this year. For those of you who don't know, the Lion Guard is the new movie/series of Simba's son Kion and his pals. Because of this new obsession, she was extremely excited to visit the Animal Kingdom. They had a Search and Hunt game for the kids throughout the park. You had to find all the members of the Lion Guard and take photos with them, at the end, you were awarded with a pin and became a member of the Guard as well as meet Rafiki. There are also a number of other search and wilderness activities for older kids. Scarlett really enjoyed this. We ate at Yak and Yetti for lunch and if you go there, please eat the fried wontons for won't be disappointed. Again, most of these restaurants you won't get into unless you have a reservation to make sure you do this with a Disney agent. Kilimanjari Safari is our favorite ride there. The Festival of the Lion King show and It's Tough to Be a Bug shows are pretty fun shows as well.

Sunday we went to Blizzard Beach. I must say that Typhoon Lagoon is my favorite and I prefer going there myself. Typhoon has swimming with sharks and stingrays along with a better beachy vibe, however Blizzard Beach has a bigger area for toddlers/babies. Take that into consideration when deciding.  Typhoon Lagoon was down  for refurbishment so we went to Blizzard instead. Get there early or you won't get a lounge spot.

We spent another day at Disney Springs shopping and eating. We've eaten at a few great restaurants there as well. We skipped Hollywood studios this time because there were a lot of refurbishments going on the week we went. Another plus to having a planner is they know all of these things. We went to Hollywood Studios the last 2 trips though. There isn't a whole lot to do there for the little kids but the shows are good (Frozen and Disney Jr. Show) and we loved the Sci-Fi Diner. It is a restaurant that mimics an old school Drive-In. You eat in cars while you watch a movie. Pretty cool. If you like roller coasters, the Aerosmith Rock and Roller Coaster is awesome. On this day we also cut it short because Maxwell had an ear ache and I ended up bringing him to Urgent Care. FYI for those of you who may not be aware, The Urgent Care is 10 minutes from Disney and has transports coming to and from there all day long. We were in and out in 2 hours. Maxwell ended up being fine and we resumed our lovely vacation.

I broke this post up into 2 parts since there were SO many photos and lots of info. I will post part 2 tomorrow listing my tips and all the things that we bring with us.

Stay tuned.....

Also, my Disney Travel Agent's Website HERE.

1 comment:

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