A Little Disney Planning Goes a Long Way -- Enter To Win a Trip!
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Every family has their own vacation style. Ours usually revolves around sleeping until noon, ice cream at odd hours, and making it to the beach before the sun goes down.
So our recent trip to Disney required a shift in my typical lackadaisical thinking. While I didn’t suddenly go from a seat- of the pantser to a planner, I found a happy medium that insured we had a variety of age appropriate activities to choose from, as well as some interesting dining experiences.
I’m here to share my hard-won Disney planning experience- it helps that Disney makes every effort to help guests prepare for a trip, from assisting with dining reservations to catering to different food allergies.
A few weeks (or up to 180 days in advance, if you’re a serious planner!) out:
Begin thinking about where you may want to eat. If you’re planning to do any character dining experiences, such as Cinderella’s Magic Table, use the Disney Online Dining Reservation system to reserve your time. We dined at Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom, and the Royal Akershus Castle in Norway. Our kids really enjoyed both experiences, and they gave the boys swords at Cinderella’s table.
TIP: Use the date range to scan for up to five days at a time. For example, choose 9 am with a date range of February 10-15. If the restaurant has availability, you book it. OR, the system makes suggestions based on nearby dining choices.
If you really want to eat at your first choice, just go through hour by hour for your date range. I know it sounds tedious, but it’s not that bad -- and it definitely pays off, by showing up hours where traffic is light. Using this method, we got reservations at Cinderella’s Table, the Akershus Castle, The Grand Floridian Tearoom, and Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary, with less than two weeks to takeoff.
All very tough to score, unless you’re stubborn with a touch of OCD like myself. OR, you can call Disney’s very helpful dining reservations line at (407) WDW-DINE, and let them do the searching for you.
To get all gastronomical about it, you can visit Victoria and Albert’s, a five- star Michelin rated Foodie adventure at the Grand Floridian -- no patrons under ten, please! To book your experience there, you must call the restaurant directly at (407)939-3463 -- and make sure your hubs packs a jacket! We opted for a second night of Mickey’s Christmas Party instead of this experience, but it’s on my bucket list for sure.
TIP: Don’t be shy about asking your resort concierge for assistance. All Disney resorts have highly skilled concierges at the front desk, who assist with anything from dining reservations to park tickets. If you’re staying on the Club level of any of the resorts, you have access to a bit of assistance before you arrive and during your stay.
I have an autograph happy five year old, who spotted the Wicked Stepsisters during a dance party at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Only problem: Cast Members can’t sign autographs during or after the dance party, as the point is to A. Dance and B. Move on to the next party. But at the end of a long day, my girl had a hard time understanding this and cried like her heart would break.
The next morning, I reached out to our wonderful concierge , who called the casting director for the Magic Kingdom and discovered the Wicked Stepsisters would be in the Fairy Tale Garden at 12:30 sharp. We went, just the lassie and myself, and were successful in our mission of getting her book signed. It’s the details and the human touch that really made the Disney experience special for us.
Other really cool activities include the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, a place for little girls three and up. Fairy Godmothers in Training dress the ladies up all sparkly and Princess-y. My daughter kept her fairy tale bun in for three days, and trailed glitter all over the park. We ordered our own organic makeup from Etsy and brought it along, since all of my kids have dye sensitivities. The staff were wonderful about making her feel special, and incorporating the things we brought along.
The Coach Package includes hairstyling and shimmering makeup, for $49.95 plus tax. The Crown Package includes hairstyling, shimmering makeup and nails, staring at $54.95 plus tax. And, for the whole kit and kaboodle, the Castle Package includes everything in the Crown, plus pictures and a full Princess costume of Her Royal Highness’s choosing. Starting at $189.95 plus tax.
TIP: Bring one of the many Princess dresses from your daughter’s playchest, and accessorize at the store. Much less expensive, but still a fun treat.
Boys three and up can do a Lil Dude package and get some Punk Rock hair ($7.50 plus tax, with reservation) OR they can go to the Pirate’s League in the Magic Kingdom, which transforms land lubbers into high seas adventurers. The Pirate’s League offers three packages —"The First Mate Package," "The Empress Package" and "The Captain's Package". All packages include a sword and sheath, earring and eye patch, tattoo, a pirate coin necklace, map case folder, and a personalized pirate oath! Yarggh. The Pirate’s League is located in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom. To make your reservation, call (407) WDW-CREW.
Of course, Walt Disney World in general is always fun, but I have to say it was spiced up by seeing the smatterings of little pirates and princesses wandering around the parks, waiting to get on Small World.
I hope this helps get a head start on planning your Disney adventure! For more in-depth resources, check out Disney’s pre-arrival guide.
Visit weekly for more posts on Lindsay's Disney adventures. Click here to enter the Lifetime Moms Dream Vacation Giveaway for a chance to win a five-day trip to the Walt Disney World (R) Resort in Florida.Enter daily through February 28.
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