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.
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Fastpass +: Your questions answered!

Goodbye my old friend Fastpass…Hello FastPass + and My Disney Experience!

FastPass + at PoohI 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 you need to know about park tickets…

One of the most common questions is about the different types of park tickets. This can be very confusing for anyone who is not a WDW nut like myself. So here are the answers to those questions!

Theme Park Tickets:

  • These are tickets for admission into the 4 Walt Disney World Parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, & Animal Kingdom)
  • Adult tickets are for ages 10 +, Child’s tickets are ages 3-9, Children under 3 are free of charge for tickets (and dining plan)
  • Base Ticket: Allows entry into ONE park per day. You can leave and reenter later in the day, but you must return to the same park.
  • The ticket cost varies based on how many days you purchase. The per day ticket cost is less per day for each additional day you add. The longer you play, the less you pay! is the tagline used by WDW.
  • Park Hopper option is an add on to your base ticket that allows you to enter more than one park per day.
  • Water Parks and More option is another add on to your base ticket that gives you access to the following: Blizzard Beach & Typhoon Lagoon Water Parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports, DisneyQuest Indoor theme park, Oak Trail Golf Course, Fantasia Gardens & Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Courses.
  • WP&M option does have some limitations. You cannot hop between these activities, you can return to the same one. Mini Golf must be played prior to 4pm as well.
  • Each of the add on options are a flat rate per ticket of $62.84/ticket including tax, but if you add both it is $89.46/ticket including tax. This is the cost for both adult and child tickets.
  • Tickets expire 14 days after the first use.
  • Tickets cannot be used by more than 1 person. Disney uses a biometric finger scan upon entry to guarantee this.
  • This is a great site to look at the prices from www.allears.net

There are reputable discount ticket agents out there, but I prefer to purchase mine through WDW. If you purchase through a second party vendor and there is a problem, Disney is less flexible about assisting you. I have priced AAA as well and when you include the tax, AAA can be more expensive than buying from WDW directly. Now, if you are someone who needs a travel agent to handle the details, then go for it. In this day and age of Internet, it seems much easier to make your own arrangements and do  your own research. I have found that travel agents are happy to make the commission but might not have the knowledge of all the aspects of Disney outside of a training session.

mymagic+What are the MYMagic + bands you ask…Soon there will be wrist bands instead of cards that will contain all of your information for ticketing, dining, room key and charging back to your room. In May, they had the RFID readers at Hollywood Studios and Epcot and you just placed your card in front of the Mickey and waited to the biometric scanner for your finger. It will also include your fastpasses if you so choose, but you will need torfid at pooh schedule your fastpasses prior to leaving for your trip similar to dining. But that is a topic for another article. This is an example of one at the Winnie the Pooh ride.

Words of warning:

  • Do not purchase used tickets! Disney uses biometric scanners to link the ticket to the individual. You can’t use anyone’s ticket but your own. So avoid eBay and Craigslist for discount tickets.
  • If you have old tickets with no expiration, you must trade them in at a ticket window or WDW hotel concierge desk. Disney now uses RFID technology and you need a ticket with a chip to get past the scanners.
  • Your tickets do expire 14 days after the first use, so make sure you use all your days or get the no expiration option. I find the no expiration a waste of money, but I plan my days to utilize them.

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

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival – Update

It’s that time of year again to start looking towards springtime with longing. Well Walt Disney World does it up right with the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival starting March 6 and ending May 19. There is everything here to get you ready for spring, beautiful gardens, DIY and HGTV personalities presenting home improvement seminars, spring inspired food and drinks and outdoor concerts.

I can’t wait to go (though I am in it for the food and drinks more than the DIY)! Here is the schedule of events for the Festival.

UPDATE:  Here is a review of the festival food and drinks from The Disney Food Blog! Also this year, they are giving passports when you enter the festival as well. In these you can check off what you have tried on the menu and notes on your food and drink. You can also collect stamps at each booth you visit.I think it is a fun addition to make it more interactive!

UPDATE: If you traveling on the Disney Dining Plan, I have also noted which of the food items are available as a snack credit!

The HGTV and DIY Network Personalities:

NEW! Chris Lambton of HGTV’s Going Yard March 8 – 10                                          NEW! Chris Grundy of DIY Network’s Cool Tools March 15 – 17                              NEW! Egypt Sherrod of HGTV’s Property Virgins March 22 – 24                         Brandon Johnson of HGTV’s My Yard Goes Disney March 29 – 31                            Meg Caswell of HGTV’s Meg’s Great Rooms April 5 – 7                                            Jason Cameron of DIY Network’s Desperate Landscapes and Man Caves                April 12 – 14                                                                                                                NEW! Sara Peterson of Editor-in-Chief, HGTV Magazine April 19 – 21                    Carter Oosterhouse of HGTV’s Million Dollar Rooms April 26 – 28                           NEW! Casey Noble of HGTV’s Design on a Dime May 3 – 5                                        Dan Faires of HGTV’s Design Star and HGTV.com’s DanMade May 10 – 12            NEW! David Bromstad of HGTV Design Star, Color Splash, Design Star All-Stars      May 17 – 19

Flower Power Concert Series at the America Gardens Theatre,                               Friday – Sunday: 5:30 PM, 6:45 PM, 8:00 PM

Micky Dolenz of The Monkeez March 8 – March 10                                           Chubby Checker & The Wildcats March 15 – March 17                                             The Guess Who March 22 – March 24                                                                  Nelson March 29 – March 31                                                                                       The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie April 5 – April 7                                                    Paul Revere & The Raiders April 12 – April 14                                                           The Village People April 19 – April 21                                                                          The Orchestra Starring Former Members of ELO and ELO II April 26 – April 28 Tommy Roe May 3 – May 5                                                                                    Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone May 10 – May 12                              Starship Starring Mickey Thomas May 17 – May 19

The Garden Marketplaces will be serving up delicious food and drinks while you enjoy the Festival. Some items will be a snack credit as well, if you are traveling on the dining plan. There are also items that are part of the new “TRY IT” menu as part of Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living initiative, to encourage children (and adults) to try come common foods in a new way.

UPDATE: If you traveling on the Disney Dining Plan, I have now noted which of the food items are available as a snack credit with a asterisks **

FRUITS BY THE GLASS – World Showcase Plaza

Watermelon Passion Fruit Cocktail Wild Berry Slush – Non Alcoholic**                         Sea Dog Blue Paw Wild Blueberry                                                                                New Planet™ 3R Raspberry Ale (Gluten Free)                                                         Florida Orange Groves, Mango Mama, Mango Wine , Blueberry Blue, Blueberry Wine DeLoach Vineyards Heritage Reserve Chardonnay & Heritage Reserve Pinot Noir

FLORIDA FRESH – World Showcase Promenade, near Mexico watermelonefgf

Watermelon Salad with pickled Red Onions, Baby Arugula, Feta Cheese**                                                               Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits with Andouille Sausage, Zellwood Corn, Tomatoes, & Cilantro**                           Angel Food Cake with macerated Florida Berries        Florida Orange Groves, Hot Sun, Tomato Wine & 40 Karat, Carrot Wine Orange Blossom Pilsner Strawberry Slush** – Non Alcoholic

JARDIN DE FIESTAS – Mexico

Pork Tacos topped with Tamarindo salsa, served on a flour tortilla with Chicharrón **   Crab tostada served with Chipotle Mayo and Valentina Salsa**                                       Guava Flan**                                                                                                                Conga Fruit Punch – Non Alcoholic**                                                                          Corona Light Draft Beer                                                                                             Rosita Margarita Organic Tequila Flight

LOTUS HOUSE – China

Beijing-Style Candied Strawberries**                                                                         Spring Pancake with Grilled Chicken and Green Apple**                                                 Pan-Fried Vegetable Bun**                                                                                           Peach-Oolong Bubble Tea**                                                                                          Kung Fu Punch (Vodka and Triple Sec with Mango and Orange Juice)                     South Sea Storm (Guava with Light and Dark Rum)                                                    Plum Wine                                                                                                                     Tsing – Tao Beer                                                                                                      Lychee Aerated Water Peach Aerated Water**

BAUERNMARKT: Farmer’s Market – Adjacent to Germany

Savory Bread Pudding with Spring Peas and Wild Mushroom Ragout**                   German Meatloaf Sandwich with Sweet Mustard and Fried Shallots**                        Potato Pancakes with house made Apple Sauce**                                                      Florida Avenue American Wheat Ale                                                                Krombacher Hefeweizen                                                                                           Goose Island Brewing Company’s Honker Ale                                                                  Blue Point’s Toasted Lager Beer Flight                                                                       Hugo – Charles De Fere “Organic” Brut with Elderflower and Mint                  Krombacher Hefeweizen

PRIMAVERA KITCHEN – Italy

Asparagi con Aragosta all’Ortolana** (Green asparagus, lobster, garden cocktail sauce) Lasagna Primavera** (Spinach Lasagna, green peas, zucchini, mushrooms, broccolini, béchamel and fresh tomatoes, with garlic and basil leaves)                                      Panna Cotta al Limoncello** (Limoncello flavored Panna Cotta, wild berries)           Fontana Candida                                                                                                         Pinot Grigio Castello di Querceto                                                                                 Chianti Bosco del Merlo                                                                                              Prosecco                                                                                                                    White Peach Bellini                                                                                             Strawberry Rossini                                                                                                     Italian Primavera                                                                                                       Birrificio Del Ducato – Nuova Mattina (Spring Saison Ale)                                            Birrificio Le Baladin – Nora (Specialty Ale)                                                                  Birra Del Borgo – Rubus Lamponi (Specialty Wild Fruit Ale)                                        Beer Flight

THE SMOKEHOUSE: Barbecue and Brews – The American Adventure Courtyard

Pulled Pig Slider with Cole Slaw**                                                                           Smoked Beef Brisket with Collard Greens and Jalapeño Corn Bread **                     Rocky Road Brownie Mousse**                                                                                    Mama’s Little Yella Pils (Czech style Pilsner)                                                             Liberty Ale from Anchor Brewing Company                                                                   Red Ale from Orlando Brewing                                                                           Blackwater Porter                                                                                                          The Original Rib Shack                                                                                                 Red Wine & Beer Flight

HANAMI – Japan fushiefgf

Frushi** (Fresh strawberries, pineapple and cantaloupe rolled with coconut rice, atop a raspberry sauce sprinkled with toasted coconut and whipped cream)                    Chirashi Hanazushi** (Grilled Salmon, cooked shrimp and crab stick served over a bed of fragrant ginger rice with Volcano and Dynamite sauce)                                                                                                                  YakiSoba Pan** (Fresh grilled carrots, onions and cabbage with Japanese noodles and teriyaki sauce served on a bun with mayonnaise and Beni Shoga)                          Green Tea Flan** (Silky custard with macha green tea and caramel glaze)                  Yuzu Rita                                                                                                                       Fruit Sake                                                                                                                    Hana Awaka                                                                                                              Frozen Kirin Ichiban

TASTE OF MARRAKESH – Morocco

Spiced Lamb Kebab with Vegetable Couscous Salad**                                                 Harissa and Lamb Confit Chicken Drumettes with Chermoula and Cucumber Salad** Baghrir** (Moroccan pancake with honey, almonds and Argan Oil)                             Desert Rose White Sangria                                                                                          Guerrouane Red Casa Beer                                                                                          Mint Iced Tea

L’ORANGERIE – France

Tarte a la ratatouille**                                                                                                 Country style pâté served with baguette and cherry compote**                                  Caramelized peaches and rosemary and light vanilla cream**                                      Grey Goose Vodka Orange, St. Germain liquor with White and Red Cranberry Juice Muscat Pétillant, Sparkling Muscat Charles de Fère Chardonnay, White Burgundy, Macon Village Georges Duboeuf Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux Beau-Rivage Kronenbourg Blanc 1664, (Fruity White Beer with Citrus Notes)

THE COTTAGE: Savories, Trifles and Tea – United Kingdom

Potato, Chive and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare and Sour Cream**                                                                                                                         Baked Goat’s Brie with Kumquat Chutney**                                                            Waterkist Farms Heirloom Tomatoes with house-made Mozzarella, Minus 8 Vinegar and Basil**                                                                                                                Chocolate Trifle**                                                                                                           Berry Trifle**                                                                                                                Ginger and Tea Trifle**                                                                                                     Trio of Trifles**                                                                                                                   Hot Teas** (Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Lemon Green Tea, Jasmine Green Tea, Spiced Apple Chai, Pumpkin Chai, Mixed Berry Black Tea, Pomegranate and Raspberry, Camomile Honey & Vanilla, Honeybush, Mandarin and Orange, Pure Peppermint, Lemon & Ginger)                                                                                   Peach Cold Brewed Iced Tea Mixed Berries Cold Brewed Iced Tea**                               Poema Cava Brut Rosé                                                                                            Chilled Rose Blush Lemonade

PINEAPPLE PROMENADE – World Showcase Promenade – near Canada

Dole® Whip Dole® Whip with Siesta Key Spiced Rum                                                     Pineapple Upside Down Cake featuring Dole® Pineapple Dole®**                          Dole® Whip Dole® Whip**                                                                                      Pineapple Fruit Cup**                                                                                                   Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade                                                                              Samuel Adams® Cream Stout

INTERMISSIONS CAFE — Festival Center                                                                Beet Lollipop                                                                                                            Grapes                                                                                                                          Fruit & Cheese Plate                                                                                                         Vegan Trio                                                                                                            Southwest Chicken Wrap                                                                                              Tuna Salad with Pita                                                                                                     Italian Salad                                                                                                                Asian Tuna Salad with Noodles                                                                                    New Planet™ 3R Raspberry Ale                                                                                  Blue Point’s Spring Fling                                                                                              Florida Orange Groves: Mango Mama, Mango Wine, Blueberry Blue, Blueberry Wine DeLoach Vineyards Heritage Reserve Chardonnay, Heritage Reserve Pinot Noir Poema Cava Brut Rosé

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

How to have Happy Holidays at Walt Disney World. Part 1: Decorations

This is the first in a series of posts about spending your holiday season at Walt Disney World. I have been during November/December Holiday season 5 times in the last 7 years and it is obviously my favorite time of the year to visit. Last year was the first time I had ever been there during Christmas and I was pleasantly surprised by the experience.

Today’s focus is on holiday decor both in the parks and at the hotels.You can spend days just wandering around Walt Disney World looking at all the wonderful decorations. It is amazing to see the scale of the decorations and how much effort is put into each detail. I previously posted a video of the Magic Kingdom decor change from Halloween to Christmas. It is amazing what they do overnight while the guests are snug in their beds. If you decide to travel any time from November 1-January 1, you will be in full Disney Christmas World. It is a wonderful time to visit and it makes a completely different experience compared to traveling in the summer months.

The Resorts:

Disney does an amazing job decorating the resorts. My favorite decorating feat I have ever witnessed was at The Boardwalk a few years ago. We were taking family pictures out and around The Boardwalk and they started to put in the poinsettia plants. One guy used this power drill auger to dig the perfect hole while another was right behind him plopping in the plants. A third man followed behind and backfilled the dirt. They did this with hundreds of poinsettia in just an hour or two. It was amazing, my dad was particularly enthralled with the process.

Every resort is decorated for the season with the theme of the hotel. Boardwalk is old school Atlantic City and the entire structure is trimmed with lights. Yacht and Beach Clubs are nautical with ornament of little sail boats and anchors. Polynesian is a pacific theme with hibiscus flowers adorning the garlands, while Grand Floridian is over the to with gold and rich textures. All the Deluxe resorts have a gingerbread structure in the lobby. Usually, they sell cookies, hot chocolate or small gingerbread houses for your hotel room. These gingerbread structures are worth a trip to see even if you are not staying in them. They are usually built sometime right before Thanksgiving.

The Parks:

  • Magic Kingdom is by far my favorite when it comes to Holiday decorations. I love the garlands and wreaths hanging over Main St. USA. It makes the perfect backdrop for pictures with the castle glimmering in the background. The Cinderella Castle itself is a wonder with millions of lights to make it look like it is covered in icicles. Every night around 6 they have a castle lighting with Fairy Godmother and Cinderella. There are details everywhere you look, including The Emporium windows with scenes from Mickey’s Christmas Carol.
  • Epcot has Holidays around the world with decor to match the spirit of every nation in The World Showcase. Along with storytelling about the country’s holiday traditions, you also can learn how people in each of the represented countries.There are large, lit decorated trees and other muted decor throughout Future World.
  • Hollywood Studios has a massive Christmas tree at the entrance of Hollywood and my favorite is when it is decorated with giant popcorn and retro plastic Santa faces. The best part about Hollywood is the Osbourne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (not Ozzy but a family from Arkansas) on The Streets of New York.
  • Animal Kingdom: Animal Kingdom is also themed with the area (Africa, Asia, etc.). Compared to Epcot, the holiday theme isn’t as in your face. The Jingle Jungle parade has the characters in holiday gear, but it is not as Christmasy as the Magic Kingdom parade.

So, are you ready to go to WDW during the Holidays? It is not for the faint of heart and it is not for First Timers. But…it was more wonderful and magical than I could have ever dreamed it to be!

 

Agent P’s World Showcase: First Hand Experience

One of the things that I was most excited to experience at Disney this last trip was the new Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure. It was very similar to the Kim Possible and some of the same effects, but there were also new experiences as well.

The F.O.N.Es were new and had bigger screens than Kim Possible. There were also more stations to sign up for your F.O.N.E. They were located on the bridge into the World Showcase, United Kingdom, Norway, and Italy. One major difference is that you no longer get a fastpass to pick up your phone at a certain location. Continue reading

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

My favorite Disney apps

There are bunches of apps for smartphones to help you on your Disney vacation. Some of my smartphone apps are helpful with planning and others are in constant use while on my vacation.

Here are my favorites: Continue reading