I have written about Traveling to Disney with Food allergies, but now it is time to talk about other dietary restrictions. I understand the stress that occurs while planning a vacation when there are medical issues with foods. Where do we eat? Can we bring our own “safe” food? One thing to know is that you can bring in your own cooler with your comfort foods (with some rules attached) or just stuff your backpack and stroller with necessary items.
Did you know you can bring in a soft sided cooler into the WDW Theme and Water Parks? Yippee! Another way to save money!! It is also a way for those with dietary issues can enjoy without worry.
Here are the official cooler rules:
- Coolers must be smaller than 24″L x 15″W x 18″H
- Coolers can be stored in lockers (the above size would fit in the large locker)
- Wheeled coolers are not permitted
- Must be a soft sided cooler
- No glass allowed
- No alcoholic beverages permitted
- No coolers are allowed at Animal Kingdom for the safety of the animals
- Coolers are permitted, including wheeled coolers
- No glass allowed
- No alcoholic beverages permitted
- No cooler storage is available
- Wagons are not permitted
Some Tips from The Mouse Ear Momma:
- Make sure you inform the security upon entering the park that you have a guest with food allergies/intolerance, diabetes, or metabolic disorder.
- Freeze water bottles and use as ice packs in your cooler
- Remember that Central Florida is steamy (and can be at any point of the year)
- Pack food that will not spoil; avoid lunch meat, dairy products, and anything that will smash or bruise easily (like bananas). Think PB&J, apple juice, squeeze apple sauce, fruit strips.
- Pack small portions; you will want to a quick grab and go pick me ups between rides.
- Don’t forget your Ziploc bags; helpful if you have any leftovers from your stash or a restaurant.
There is a wonderful experience to be had at Magic Kingdom. It is not widely known, it is small and intimate (which is a shocker anywhere at WDW), and it is relatively inexpensive (another WDW shock)!
The Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party!!
Now that I have experienced this twice, I feel like I can write about it for my fellow Disney lovers. This is a great experience to add some magic to your trip. Reservations are difficult to get because it only holds a limited number of guests and they now accept reservations 180 in advance like the other restaurants. It is not on the Disney Dining Plan, so you will be paying out of pocket for the experience. The price is around $22-26 for adults (ages 10 and over) and $12-14 for children 3-9. This does not include tax and can vary depending on the time of year, more expensive during the holiday peak seasons. You will prepay for this when you book and they accept cancellations up to 48 hours in advance.
You are given a time to arrive about an hour before the fireworks – you arrive at 9:05pm for a 10:00 viewing of Wishes. After you check in at the desk and receive your wrist band, you will be shown to your reserved table. This isn’t first come first serve, so it isn’t worth queuing up in a line an hour before your scheduled arrival.
Once you are seated, you are welcome to go to the self service, all you can eat dessert buffet in the back of the restaurant. There are 2 stations full of items and drinks in the middle. The buffet includes: tarts with fruit, key lime, apple pie, banana creme, and chocolate peanut butter; Full sized chocolate chip and sugar cookies, Crisped rice treats, Chocolate dipped strawberries, Itty bitty cannolis, tiny cups of cheesecake, chocolate mouse, creme brulee, & tiramisu, mango shooters, build your own sundae station and fresh cut fruit. The little mango shooters are a favorite of my family. The drink options are lemonade, raspberry lemonade, iced tea, milk, coffee and tea.
The desserts on constantly refilled during that hour between your arrival and the fireworks. The cast members come to clear your place on regular basis. My daughter wouldn’t give up her 6 mango shooter cups and straws as a symbol of her triumph.
You can see the Main St. Electrical Parade from this location, but it is definitely from a distance. They also pipe in the music for the parade for you to enjoy. The castle light show is very enjoyable but you don’t get the same angle you have from Main St. and the hub.
The most spectacular thing is the flight of Tinkerbell from the Castle to the roof of Tomorrowland Terrace. (Tried and failed to get good pictures of this!).No one in our group believed that this really happened until the live Tinkerbell was directly overhead waving to us.
Overall, this is completely worth the experience. Would I do it every trip? No…but I would as a special surprise or treat for the family. Most of our group of 14 said that this was their favorite experience of the entire trip. I think that $26 per person is worth the experience of the fireworks, all you can eat desserts, NO crowd jostling you around…and Tinkerbell smiling directly at you!
Goodbye my old friend Fastpass…Hello FastPass + and My Disney Experience!
I have to say that I am nostalgic about the old system because most of us frequent WDW visitors had that down to a science. But as of this month, the old fastpass machines at the entrance to the most popular rides are no more! Instead, all guests are now expected to take part in the new My Disney Experience, My Magic+, Magic Bands and FastPass + (FP+) online system.
Things work differently depending if you are staying on property or off site.
This is the same for all guests:
- You select (and can change) your return time for the ride/experience.
- You can only choose 3 FP+ per day
- You can only get your 3 FP+ in one park each day
- FP+ includes character experiences and seating for fireworks & parades
- You can change your FP+ selections at any point, even during your return time(if you get to your ride return and see no line, you can adjust your FP+ at the entrance for a different ride) Continue reading
What do you do if you can only travel during the more crowded times of the year? Don’t fret, help is on the way.
First of all, you need to know the most crowded times of the year. Basically, if kids are on a break then WDW is crowded.
The busiest times are:
- February over President’s Day Weekend
- Spring Break season: Mid March through Easter
- Easter: Date changes but week before and after are second most crowded of the year
- Summer: Mid June-Early August
- Columbus Day Weekend: Modest increase in crowds
- Thanksgiving: Third busiest time of the year for the week
- Christmas – New Years: Busiest time of the year from Christmas Day-New Year
Here are my tips for traveling during the busiest times of the year:
Lower your expectations: You can not expect to go to Magic Kingdom and ride everything on your list. Pick your top 3 priorities and know there will be time to do other things. By doing this you won’t be walking away disappointed and you will be pleasantly surprised when you get more accomplished.
Stay on Property: The convenience of staying on property outweighs the additional cost in this situation. The resort transportation will be more crowded than normal, but will not be as bad as driving your own car into the crazy parking lots, then taking a tram to the entrance or WDW transportation. This is especially important for Magic Kingdom because you park at the Ticketing and Transportation Center then take a monorail or ferry to the entrance of the park. By staying on resort property you also have the benefit of Extra Magic Hours (EMH).
Extra Magic Hours: When staying on property you are given access to certain parks for 1 hour in the morning before it opens to the public and 2 hours in the evening after close. Taking advantage of this can greatly increase the amount of attractions you are able to see and do! I personally like to enjoy EMH mornings at one park and then leave when it gets crowded to go to a different park by park hopping. Alternatively, if you are a night owl the evening EMH might be up your alley. The evening EMH are much more crowded than the morning, but if you can stay until the end you will reap the benefits of extra ride time with little wait. If you are not staying on property, avoid the parks with EMH during your vacation.
Park Hop: The additional cost of the park hopper is the most beneficial during these times. You can go to one park until the crowds overwhelm you, then hop over to a less crowded park. Or you can head back to your hotel (especially when staying on property) and then hop to a different park in the evening.
Go to the parks EARLY: I know you are on vacation, but so is everyone else going to Disney. That being said, WAKE UP EARLY and be at the parks for rope drop (official opening) or soon after! Most people will not get themselves together and moving by 8am, but by 10am the parks will be crowded. No one goes to Disney for a relaxing, sleep in vacation. For example: Christmas Day at Magic Kingdom has been at capacity the last few years around 10:30am. You can walk right in at 7am, but you can’t even get past the gates at 10:30. What does this teach us (other than avoid MK on Christmas!)? Get to the parks early, you will thank yourself when you are walking out to take a swim at 11 and the entrance turnstiles are 20 deep!
Take a Mid Day Break: The parks are most crowded from 11am-4pm. Take a break back at the hotel for swimming and a nap. Or have lunch in a hotel near the park and do some hotel hopping to check out the different WDW resort hotels.
Make ALL your dining reservations: When going during a crowded time of year, you will not have a snowball’s chance of getting into the more popular restaurants without reservations far in advance. That being said, you can still get into table service restaurants. Choose less popular restaurants in the park or ones located in the resort hotels.
Utilize the Fastpass system: This is the time when Fastpasses are your best friend. Decide your most important priority and get a fastpass at park opening for that ride. You can get your next fastpass 2 hours later, so at 9am if your fastpass return for Space Mountain is not until 2-3pm, you can get another fastpass at 11am for a different ride as well. With the new Fastpass+ system, you can prearrage your fastpasses (up to 3) which will be a huge benefit to staying on property during a crowded time.
I hope this advice helps and doesn’t scare you! I have traveled over Christmas with a group of 14 and I am going back at the same time this year. Take this advice and you will still enjoy your trip!