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Animal Kingdom Tips

Disney’s Animal Kingdom® is fascinating! But, there are a few Animal Kingdom tips that will help you enjoy your trek through the Animal Kingdom even more.

  1. Visit the park during the week to avoid large pedestrian crowds. The construction of the walkways are narrower than the other parks, thus making it harder to maneuver. Going at less popular times will provide better walking areas.
  2. Pick a place to meet as it is very easy to loose your bearing due to the plantings and jungle-like environment. A great place to consider is Tusker House in Africa as it is closer to the entrance of the park and offers refreshments.
  3. Check tip board for updates on attraction wait times as Animal Kingdom does have some very popular rides and shows.
  4. Visit earlier in the day to see the animals at their best. As they day gets warmer they are less willing to show their stuff the way humans get tired after a long day of work.

So, get your trek on and do the Animal Kingdom.

MyMagic+ and MyDisneyExperience

This past November, I had the opportunity to visit the Walt Disney World Resort to experience one of the biggest changes in technology in over 30 years. Over the last year or two, Disney has been moving to use RF ID chips in key cards to open doors at the resorts. Well…This year brought that technology to a whole new dimension. Welcome MyMagic+® and the MyDisneyExperience® website and app.

The heart of the MyMagic+® experience is the MyMagic+® wristband. This wristband is and will be taking the place of the traditional plastic room key and paper theme park ticket. Through the MyDisneyExperience® app or website, your resort reservation, theme park tickets, dining reservations, FastPass® and Photopass® are linked to the bracelet. This advancement makes life very easy within the resort as one no longer has to fumble around looking for the tickets and cards.

The fun part about the bracelets was the ability to customize the color. The default color is gray, but there are about six colors from which to choose allowing easy distinction among family members. This needs to be done via the MyDisneyExperience® website at least two weeks prior to your arrival to allow time for shipping of the bracelets to your home.

If time permits ahead of schedule, it is best advised to link all your information ahead of time via the website or tablet app. This will allow you to get to the fun of Disney World much faster. It took me about two weeks to get through the trials and tribulations because of the hick-ups in the testing phase and my previous theme park tickets were of an old style requiring me to actually go to Guest Relations at the Magic Kingdom® once I arrived.

Complimentary Gate and Resort Package Delivery at Disney World

Two great services that Disney has had operational for years are their complimentary gate and resort package delivery at Disney World from all the shops in the parks and Downtown Disney. These great and convenient FREE services allows you to make purchases at the parks and Downtown Disney and have them delivered to your resort (as long as you’re staying at a Disney resort). There is also an option to have them shipped home, if need be.

The only planning required is to know the cut off periods when the parks stop sending packages to the resorts each day. After that time, you may opt for the package pickup at the front of the parks. Deliveries are made to each resort usually in the afternoons. Packages are delivered to the resort gift shops and cataloged. After that time, they are available for pickup which is usually the next day.

Whenever possible, I like to take advantage of package delivery services at Disney World since it allows me to wander the parks without having to worry about extra appendages to worry about and keep track of. I can be sure that they will be safely delivered to my resort and I can retrieve them when convenient (usually when going to eat). The only times when I don’t use package delivery is when it is logistically impossible, such as close to park closing or a day of departure. Even when I have my rental car parked in the lot I will try to use package delivery so that I don’t have to remember to make a stop at package pickup on the way out, although they would be available the next day.

Magic Kingdom Tips

Here are a few Magic Kingdom tips for getting to see the everything possible in the park. As long as you’re willing to make a few sacrifices, you’ll surprise yourself.

  1. Take advantage of Extra Magic Hours. If you are staying at a Disney resort, you have the advantage of getting into the park an hour early or stay up to three hours after closing on certain days. During those times, I recommend doing the popular rides that typically have the longest wait times.
  2. Visit early. This is one of those sacrifices you make to have more fun. If you can get to the park at opening, you’ll have the advantage of getting to attractions before long lines develop around mid-day.
  3. Visit attractions during parades and fireworks. If you’re willing to forgo the parades and fireworks, you’ll find that the lines will dissipate during those time. The only battle will be getting through the stationary crowds.
  4. Use your guide map and plan your day. Examine time schedules for shows and other events and plan your excursions based on those times.
  5. If you’re making dining reservations for character  dining, make sure those reservations are made as early as possible. In fact, make them before you even arrive at Disney World to ensure a decent time. Otherwise, see a cast member at Guest Services as soon as possible as times fill up FAST.Also, if you’re visiting with small children, try to get earlier reservations. Children will be more receptive of the characters when they are less tired.

Doing Laundry at Disney World

Traveling anywhere has gotten difficult with the airlines imposing fees on checked bags which makes taking a sufficient supply of clothes and other items a challenge. Disney World is no different. To battle this problem, one solution is to take with you a smaller number of clothes and do a load of laundry if needed.

Disney offers its guests laundry facilities as well as laundry service. Each resort has coin operated laundry facilities located conveniently in key areas of the resort. Those locations will also have vending machines with single load amounts of detergent. The sundry shops at the resorts also offer travel size packages of detergent and associated products. You may also consider stopping at a convenience store outside of Disney such as CVS , Walgreens, Walmart or Publix (the local supermarket) and buy a small container or box. You may also want to pack with you a collapsible hamper or laundry sack to keep organized and make your walk to the facility easy.

If you happen to have the luxury of staying in a “Home Away from Home” such as Disney’s Fort Wilderness or any of the Disney Vacation Club resorts, the larger accommodations are equipped with washers and dryers. Those staying in deluxe studio accommodations have access to FREE laundry facilities located within the common areas.

Although doing housework is not what people exactly want to be doing while at Disney, think of the reality that could be avoided upon returning home after a week or more. You’ll be glad you did your wash while having a smile on your face.

Joining the Disney Vacation Club

One of the things to do while in Disney World, if you haven’t done it already, is to take a break from the park and visit the Disney Vacation Club Preview Center. Here you will learn all about the benefits of being part of Disney’s unique time-share system. Even if it’s your first visit, the advantages to being part of the Disney Vacation Club are great and numerous.

In this quick preview, you will be introduced to a “Guide” who will explain all the various options to obtaining an interest in a Disney property. After this hour of introduction, your reward will be an ice cream sundae.

There are several advantages to joining the Disney Vacation Club. The largest is that you are pre-paying for almost 50 years of vacation rather than having to deal with the inflation of resort prices over the years. The second best reason is the system that Disney developed compared to other timeshare programs. It is a point based system where you purchase an allotment of points rather than a block of time at a certain time of the year. One can buy a small block to start and then add on depending on your vacation needs. Lastly, the accommodations that are available to you both in Disney and around the world. They are equivalent to luxury resorts, but with added amenities and privileges that are not available to regular resort guests, such as kitchens or kitchenettes in the villas and various discounts. Whether you are at Disney or one of their many partners, your accommodations will always be to Disney standards.

Joining the Disney Vacation Club allows your family the gift of being able to spend more time together as a family in Disney and around the world. Check it out and see for yourself.

If traveling to Walt Disney World becomes routine, this option may be the beset thing you’ve ever found. Because the system is based on a point system rather than purchasing a certain week in the year, you are in control of where you want to use them and how many points you need each year. There are options including the Disney Cruise Line, other cruise lines, great ski vacation destinations in Colorado and Utah, as well as accommodations in Europe and around the world via RCI. If you’re really ambitious, there are the Adventures by Disney which are fun-filled and adventure packed tours lead by trained Disney guides. There are packages to the National Parks as well as African Safaris, just to name a few; the choice is yours.

If traveling to Disney World is a year occurrence or you just like to vacation around the world with many options, being part of this program is great.

Downtown Disney Guest Services

If you happen to be arriving late at night or need something from Guest Services late at night, stop by Guest Services at Downtown Disney at one of two locations:

  • Marketplace by Team Mickey Athletic Club. The hours are: Sun-Thur 8:30am – 11:00pm  & Fri & Sat 8:30am – 11:30pm.
  • West Side at Disney Quest next door to the AMC movie theater. Hours are 9:30am – 12am daily.

Here you may purchase park admission tickets and other find out other information relating to the WDW resort.

Favorite Recipes Online Cookbook

Everyone has a favorite recipe that their family enjoys and is easy to make. What if there was a favorite recipes online cookbook available to Disney vacationers where one could submit a favorite recipe or two and be able to search for other recipes that work well at kitchen equipped Disney resorts? (Dining out every day at Disney gets costly.)

I have had this idea for quite sometime now and been hashing out how to make a favorite recipe online cookbook work. Now, with the increased lightweight wireless devices available and the availability of Internet access at Disney resorts, I thought that now would be a time to begin developing such a solution.

So, before work begins on developing this favorite recipe online cookbook, there are several initial questions that come to mind in the layout of the site. These questions are:

  1. Would this kind of site be welcomed and used by guests?
  2. Would users be willing to pay a nominal subscription fee to access the site to avoid annoying banner ads?
  3. How should the categories be setup to organize the recipes that are submitted?
  4. Would a rating system be a welcomed feature?

Any comments or questions are welcomed via the comments section below.

The Many Dining Options at Disney World

There are many different dining options available when it comes to dining and finding a great meal at Disney World. Back in the early days of the resort, choices were limited and quality was less than desirable. However, since the Disney Decade in the 1990′s when restaurants started to populate the resort, every type of cuisine has become present. Many restaurants have actually been written up in magazine and gotten great ratings with Zagat’s.

What used to be a drag is now part of the fun and excitement of going to the Disney World Resort. A great part of planning your stay now includes picking restaurants and having to book reservations early. Some restaurants require reservations months in advance such as Le Celier located at the Canada pavilion in World Showcase at Epcot. Unless you’re willing to eat at 4:30PM, getting a normal reservation is challenging. I’ve been trying for several years now.

I have been to many great restaurants at Disney World over the last decade or so. Some of my favorites have been The Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Alfredo’s Ristorante located at the Italy pavilion in Epcot (now replaced by another great eatery), and Artist’s Point located at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. The challenge is not really picking where to eat, but getting there using Disney’s great transportation system.

If you’re looking for dinner shows, I’ve been to several of these as well and some are more geared to families rather than individuals or couples. The Hoop-Dee-Do Musical Review and Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Show are two of my favorites. Mickey’s Backyard BBQ is a fun event at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground Resort, but is definitely more geared towards those with little kids.

It’s always fun to plan a trip to Walt Disney World and knowing that the day will end with a great dinner at one of the many wonderful restaurants or shows just adds to the magic.

Disney’s Photopass Service

Four years ago, Disney revamped it’s photography service in the parks. They migrated to a more user friendly system called Photopass which allows the photographers in all the parks to take your pictures in all the great spots and then they get automatically uploaded to a dedicated account tied to a Photopass card.

This service allows you to take advantage of the Disney Photographers and not have to run back at a certain time at the main gate like in years past. Instead, you can now at your leisure log into the Photopass website and pick and choose the photos you wish to buy, make your own souvenirs, and upload your own photos to the account and share them with others.

The last interesting thing about this service is that Disney allows you to actually purchase the photos taken in digital format rather than just prints or projects. For a small fee, you may download individual shots or pay for a photoCD of all the pictures at a reasonable flat fee.

One thing to remember is that any pictures taken or uploaded to the Disney Photopass website are only available for 60 days or so after your vacation is completed. So, make sure to view your photos and make any purchases within that time period.

Your Photopass card does not expire after your trip is complete. Once your card is registered on the website, keep that card in a safe place and use it the next time you visit Walt Disney World.