Dietary Issues at WDW

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.

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Bring a Cooler into WDW

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:

Theme Parks:

  • 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

Water Parks:

  • 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.

Oh No! I can only go when it is crowded!!

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!

Resorts for Grown Ups

Everyone thinks of Disney as a travel destination for parents with small children but this is not the case. There are tons of adults that love Walt Disney World and may want to enjoy the parks without the kids (or grandkids). Here are my recommendations for resort hotels that are more suitable for adults. These are based on location, amenities, restaurants/bars on site and the general grown up feeling of the resort. Yes, you will find families there but it’s Disney World and you can’t avoid that! Most of the resorts I recommend for adults are in the Deluxe category because you will find more and more families when you go to moderate and value resorts. Continue reading

A list of the Character Meal Options

I have so many people ask me about the various Character Dining options in Walt Disney World. I have compiled a list with descriptions for each to make deciding easier for you! I have previously written about my favorites if you want to take a look. This is a basic list that tells you the facts, not my opinions of each (which I have many).

Character meals

(Organized by Character type)

Mickey & Friends Continue reading

Play, Stay, Dine & Save Offer

The newest discount that Walt Disney World is offering is the Play, Stay, Dine and Save. There are actually 2 different offers with this deal. In reality it is a room only discount. If you add the Magic Your Way package with Dining, it is still a room discount with full price on the tickets & dining plan.

The room discount is as follows: Continue reading

Finally…I have experienced the Ice Cream Sandwich

I have finally experienced the famous Ice Cream Sandwich at the Main Street Bakery. The cost was $4.19, but it is still considered a snack credit. We had a choice of cookie: chocolate chip, sugar or oatmeal raisin. I went with the traditional chocolate chip. They put 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream on one giant cookie and then topped the ice cream with another. It was so huge that we cut it into 4 portions and everyone had plenty! This is now my favorite snack at Disney and had surplanted the following list!

Here is a short list of my other favorite desserty snacks:

  • Dole Whip @ Aloha Isle (MK)
  • Orange Swirl @ Sunshine Tree Terrace (MK)
  • Churros in Frontierland (MK)
  • Carrot Cake Cookie @ Writers Stop (HS)
  • Strawberry Shortcake @ Sunshine Seasons (EP)

Last Chance for Fall Free Dining

Free Dining Plan with the purchase of a Magic Your Way room and ticket package at select resort hotels will be finished on September 29th! Dining Plan can be a huge cost savings. If you are planning on travelling on any of the following dates and havn’t booked yet, now’s the time! New Fantasyland opens December 6, so that would be a perfect time visit the magic!

Arrival dates:

  • 9/30-10/4
  • 10/19-11/1
  • 11/9-11/15
  • 11/23-11/29
  • 12/10-12/13

Book through September 29th!

I’m Back…

Sorry, I haven’t blogged in quite a while. We just got back from the most magical place on Earth and then school started 2 days later. Talk about cutting it close! On top of all of that is the fact that this was our longest Disney vacation yet (7 nights/8 days) and we were all exhausted. I had planned on writing while there but let’s face it, spending time with the family was more important.

It was such a magical trip! We did almost everything on our Disney bucket list and still had time for swimming and some great meals. Here are the highlights and I will post more details on everything later: Continue reading

Be Our Guest Restaurant…Make your Reservations!

Today is the day to make your reservations for the Be Our Guest Restaurant for dinner starting November 19th. Don’t bother with trying online, as of today they are only taking phone reservations at 407-WDW-DINE. Online reservations should be forthcoming, I assume they didn’t want to take down their system for the day! If you are traveling within 180 days, you should try to get a reservation! This is opening a few weeks before the rest of the new Fantasyland which tells me that you will possibly be having “soft” openings of attractions as well.

For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about…Be Our Guest is the new restaurant inside the Beast’s Castle in the Fantasyland expansion. It will be a quick service during lunch and a sit down for dinner.  There will be 3 themed dining rooms, The West Wing, Ballroom & Rose Gallery. If you are a Beauty and The Beast fan, this restaurant is a must for you.