Friday, June 28, 2013

Disney tips and ideas

I have been to Disney World several times over the years. However....this past trip was the first time my kids have had the chance to experience all 4 parks. I decided to do a little research this time so that we could get the most bang for the buck. In the past when we have visited, we just went with the flow and had fun! All of those trips were wonderful but we did not accomplish a whole lot as far as attractions or the must dos.

My first decision was to stay on Disney's property or off. In the past, We have always stayed somewhere off the property. A couple of times our accommodations were a timeshare offer. The pros were cheap or free lodging. The cons.....a mandatory tour(one included free 3 day passes to any of the parks). I decided to stay on Disney's property at Shades of Green  since this would be something new for all of us! This is a military hotel so I know not everyone has access to stay here. I was very impressed and enjoyed our stay(even though we did not spend a whole lot of time at the hotel). Besides it being our first time to stay on property, the other pluses were no parking fees and Extra Magic Hours. For anyone staying on Disney's property, your family has access to certain parks each day an hour early or 2 hours after closing. This was a huge plus for us since we were trying to accomplish 4 parks in 3 days. 
To save money, I only booked 2 nights. We have friends that live less than 2 hours from Disney so we stayed 2 nights with them. Shades of Green will let you do an early check in. Although you will not get your room, it allows you to take advantage of the free shuttle and Extra Magic Hours( I am sure other hotels do this as well)!

Once I decided on the hotel, then the rest of my planning could begin. Please take note that I am a deal lover. When planning, I tried to make it special but at the same time save money.  

Some may call me crazy(my hubby included) but I decided to keep a notebook on all my findings.

The crazy part........... I made a cute little Disney cover. Hey.......mine is just a folder on Disney steroids! 
Some of you may be laughing or rolling your eyes right about now but let me tell you.........this thing came in handy!!!!!

Inside my notebook was........

Any reservation confirmations in the front.

The middle contained all the information needed for each park.
Magic Kingdom
Animal Kingdom
Hollywood Studios

The last part was any extra tips or ideas.

Here is a list of websites which helped during my research

Disney website - This is the official website for Disney. Great for planning your vacation or looking at what each park has to offer(with pictures)

My Disney Experience - If you have an iphone, ipad,etc, I would strongly suggest getting this app(it's free). You can see each ride in the park and wait times(huge plus and time saver!), which attractions offer a fastpass and when there all taken, times the shows start and allows you to have a plan.

Park Crowd Planner - This will help you to know the best parks to avoid or attend for each day of your vacation.

Easy WDW - This is a great overall website which explains in detail highlights of Disney.

Top Ten Lists - List the top ten of everything

Military tips - Great for if your military!! We got the special military 4 day hopper passes for $156!

Disney Food Blog - Everything on Disney food. Did you know you can bring your own food into the Disney parks? I brought snacks and 1 meal into the park and it saved us a ton of money!

Blogs I found useful 

123 Homeschool 4 Me  - Loved this one!
There are a lot of blogs out there written by moms who know Disney. These were just a few that I found helpful.

My advice:
Find out what is popular at each park and use the fastpass opportunity. Don't be confused if you go to Six Flags often. You do not have to purchase a fastpass.

What is a fastpass?

Use the  FASTPASS.  It’s free and saves you time from standing in long lines. When you get to a ride you can see how long the wait time is.  The most popular rides do have longer wait times.  It is better to grab a Fastpass and then go to another ride.  Upon return to the ride you can enter the Fastpass lane. You can only get a FAST PASS every 2 hours so be sure to grab them on your favorite rides.  Don’t waste it on a ride that has a 20 minute wait time when others have a 75 minute wait time. - See more at:
To Use FASTPASS Service:
  1. Look for the “FASTPASS Distribution” sign near the entrance of an attraction.
  2. Check the return time displayed on the sign.
  • This time indicates when you should return to enjoy the attraction using your FASTPASS ticket.
  • For attractions, the return time is a 1-hour window (e.g., 1:10 PM to 2:10 PM), and you can show up anytime between then. For shows, your return time will be for a specific performance.
  1. If the return time works for you, insert your valid admission ticket into the FASTPASS Service machine. (You may use your Walt Disney World Resort admission ticket, re-entry ticket, Key to the World card or Annual Pass.)
  2. The machine will generate a FASTPASS ticket printed with your return time.
  3. Go back to the FASTPASS ticketholder entrance when your return time rolls around, show your ticket to the Cast Member and enjoy the attraction with a minimal wait.
Please keep in mind:
  • FASTPASS tickets are valid only on the day of issue.
  • Everyone in your party using the FASTPASS ticketholder entrance must have a FASTPASS ticket.
  • The time at which you can get your next one will be printed on your ticket. FASTPASS Service machines will not issue another ticket until the time stated on your current one.
Use the  FASTPASS.  It’s free and saves you time from standing in long lines. When you get to a ride you can see how long the wait time is.  The most popular rides do have longer wait times.  It is better to grab a Fastpass and then go to another ride.  Upon return to the ride you can enter the Fastpass lane. You can only get a FAST PASS every 2 hours so be sure to grab them on your favorite rides.  Don’t waste it on a ride that has a 20 minute wait time when others have a 75 minute wait time. - See more at:

 Now for the ideas/crafts from our trip

I decided several months prior to our trip that I wanted to do outfits for each day. It started out just for the girls but eventually I jumped on board. My son would only agree to plain same colored shirts. I immediately searched for ideas that would be budget friendly....remember I am about saving money!

I found these shirts from Lolly Wolly Doodle for only $12 each.

I was lucky enough to find these Minnie Mouse shirts at Walmart on the clearance rack for $3 each.

I made these (minus the skirt) for Animal Kingdom. I got the shirts from Target(I already had my black one) for $5 each. The material and ribbon at Hobby Lobby for around $10. I used a Target coupon for the flip flops so they were free.

I made these pocket tees for Epcot.

 I got the t shirts on sale at Michaels for $1.96 each. I used ebay balance for the chevron material. Total for the shirts....under$6.

I also made bows to match for my youngest daughter. I only had to buy the Chevron ribbon which I got at Hobby Lobby. Total cost for 2 bows......$2

The Minnie Mouse I made using  fabric I already had. It is removable so the clip and bow can be worn separate.

Here is a tutorial on how to roll the fabric. To make the Minnie Mouse you roll 1 big one and 2 smaller ones.

I made these signature book since we were going to eat lunch with the princesses and see characters.

I bought these at Hobby Lobby for $2.50 each. I used my cricut to cut out the names and Mickey head. I hot glued the bow to make it a Minnie. These were great because they had bookmarks attached to them. This made it easy to find the next page.

I also used my cricut to turn the plain water bottle into Disney water bottles.

Since we went to Disney in June (when its hot), these were wonderful! Many places in the park will give you a free cup of ice water. We kept refilling these all day. Saved us a lot of money! Hint: We brought a few of those single Crystal Light packets if we wanted flavored water.

The added names on the bottle helped the girls to know which bottle was theirs.
I got the bottles at Walmart for $1.50 each.

I saw this idea on pinterest and knew it was a must!

I used polish I already had to make the Mickey toes. I used a tip of a Q-tip to make the face and the end of a pointed Q-tip to make the ears. I did this on the big toe and thumb.

Total cost......$0.

These next couple of items are not crafts but more like should haves.

When you sit down to watch the parade at Magic Kingdom. Cast members pop out from all areas with these glow-in-the-dark-everythings! Back in February I heard......"Mom I want one!" "Mom everyone else has one!"  and my favorite "Mom I won't ask for anything ever!"

This time around mom was smart(or lame some may think).......I got these at the Dollar Tree for $1.07 each.

They worked just as well as the $10-$20 ones. They even spin as long as you keep manual twirling them.

If you go in the summer, I can't stress enough about this next must have!

Fans and a spray fan bottle. These were a life saver! Yes, you can buy them at the park....but they are $20. We got our blue one at Academy for $9.99. We also got the kind that hang around your neck and blow upwards for $5. I wish I would have gotten us each one of those.

The last tip and I will be done. Bring a poncho just in case. It rained everyday we were there. You will not want to leave the park or hide for cover because that is the best time to ride rides(that are still open of course). We didn't mind getting soaked because it was hot. We mainly used them to keep our bags dry. Be careful about buying cheap $1 ponchos. Sometimes they rip just putting them on.

I hope that this was will help you in planning your next magical trip to Disney World!

Use the  FASTPASS.  It’s free and saves you time from standing in long lines. When you get to a ride you can see how long the wait time is.  The most popular rides do have longer wait times.  It is better to grab a Fastpass and then go to another ride.  Upon return to the ride you can enter the Fastpass lane. You can only get a FAST PASS every 2 hours so be sure to grab them on your favorite rides.  Don’t waste it on a ride that has a 20 minute wait time when others have a 75 minute wait time. - See more at:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hollywood Studios

I know some of you are probably getting tired of seeing posts about our Disney trip..........
okay.... put your hands down.

I have so many pictures from our trip that it was easier to break it up. I promise this is our last park post. Notice I said park post........I am planning to do a tips and ideas post next.

As I mentioned before in my previous post, we visited Animal Kingdom the first half of the day and Hollywood Studios the second half. 

The first thing I did was use My Disney Experience app on my phone to check and see if there were any fastpasses for Toy Story Mania. I read they are usually gone by noon.  I wasn't shocked to find out they were all out. So we headed straight to Tower of Terror and Rock n Roll Roller Coaster. My youngest surprised me on this trip with her courage for riding thrill rides. There was a 105 minute wait for Rock n Roll so we grabbed a fastpass for later and rode Tower of Terror(20 minute wait).

I wish I would have snapped an up close picture of the photo the ride captures. They were pretty hilarious!

Throughout the day, we rode several rides and saw shows. I expected Hollywood Studios to be packed but was shocked to see a small amount of wait time for several things! 

One of the things we had to do was see the last showing of Beauty and the Beast at 5:30.

Griffin managed to get in a cat nap during the show. 

As soon as Beauty and the Beast was over, it was time to use our fastpass for Rock n Roll Roller Coaster.

I wasn't sure if the girls would like this ride since it goes fast and upside down. They loved it!

That evening it poured down rain so we caught a few of the indoor shows.

Ella was selected to hold the key for Pirates of the Caribbean. She only had one small little word to say......I. She was so nervous! She kept asking me, "Now what am I supposed to say again?" It was a little confusing since the guy added a pirate accent to the word. 

I was trying to take a picture and video. Since we have never done this show before I didn't know what to expect. I missed her saying "I" (which she did very well!) but caught some of the tail end of her part.

She took her acting gig very seriously!

Later that night, we went to see Fantasmic!

Sorcerer Mickey and pyrotechnics during the Fantasmic! fireworks show at Disney's Hollywood Studios 

It was a great must see show!

Since we were staying for Extra Magic Hours, we raced to the one ride we had been checking on all day......Toy Story Midway Mania. This is a very popular ride! The wait time was never less than 100 minutes all day!

Our timing paid off.......20 minute wait! OH YEAH! It was the one thing I wanted to make sure we did before we left!

Girl and boy wearing 3D glasses shooting at targets with their Spring-Action Shooters from their throne-style vehicle in Toy Story Mania! 

I can see why a fastpass was gone by midday and the wait time was so long. 
It is worth it!

One last picture in the park before we headed to the bus.

We had so much fun at all 4 parks. 
It was 3 full days of fun with little sleep!

Griffin even asked me a few times, "I thought we were on vacation?"

My reply........

"The beach is for a relaxing vacation......Disney is for jam packed nonstop fun filled days!"
If we were staying a week/had yearly passes.....that may would have been a different quote. 
Not for 4 parks in 3 days!

I don't know why he was complaining......I was the one who had to drive that night to our friends house.....which we did not get in until 4:00 am!

The next day(after sleeping in), we had lunch with our friends the Meeks and headed home.

I promise I only have one more post on Disney. I will be sharing all the tips I learned and Disney ideas. If you have a Disney trip coming up, you will not want to miss this post!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom was new to all 4 of us. The last time I thought about going was when Griffin was 3. It had just opened up and people were telling us it was not worth it. I think all the park needed was a few years to add attractions.

Since we only had 3 days on our passes, I decided to do half a day at Animal Kingdom(early hour was here) and the other half at Hollywood Studios(Extra Magic Hours was here).

After a few days of pulling late nights, my kids were having a hard time waking up. I went to bed the night before(2:30 I think???) thinking I would wake up at 6:00 and enjoy a nice cup of coffee on the balcony before waking the kids and packing. It did not go according to how I planned.

I did wake up early....... just moved very slowly(should have had that coffee)! I did however get a couple of shots from our balcony and the room.

My camera fogged up as soon as I stepped outside but I took the picture anyways. Our room overlooked a golf course. 

Here is the room and the girls that wouldn't get up.

Once we finally got ready and rushed down to catch the bus.........we were 5 minutes too late! 

What do you do if your kids make you miss the bus?

You torture them with pictures!

 Ella used her own money to buy these Minnie ears. It  matched her outfit perfectly.

After a long wait, we were excited to finally see this....

Since we were only spending half a day here, I wanted to do as much as we could. We raced off to Expedition Everest to get a fastpass for later. Once we got it, we raced back over to Africa for Kilimanjaro Safaris. We had about a 20 minute wait, the weather wasn't too bad and the animals were out. 

I read that the best time to do the safari is in the morning. We saw a majority of the animals up and alert.

At the center of Animal Kingdom is the Tree of Life. There were several photo opportunities throughout the park.

When it was our fastpass time, we headed back to Asia to ride Expedition Everest.

We all loved this ride! It takes you to the top of the mountain and then back down backwards. It wasn't too fast and no flips. I wish we could have rode this one again but we had to make sure not to miss The Festival of the Lion King!

Wait that's not the Lion King! 
That's the huge doughnut we split right before the show!

Characters from Festival of the Lion King performing in front of a packed audience

 This was such a great show!

By this time of the day, it was getting hot. We cooled off in their misters.

The last thing we did at Animal Kingdom was It's Tough to be a Bug. This was a 3D film and live show with little surprises throughout. We thought it was really cute!

I wish we could have stayed longer. The only place we did not get to was DinoLand. Since Ella was riding all the roller coasters, I figured we would need more time at Hollywood Studios. 
(Looking back.....we could have stayed longer to experience DinoLand. Due to Extra Magic Hours and using fastpasses, we had plenty of time at Hollywood Studios!)

Last stop..........Hollywood Studios!