Tag Archive: Disney World


Orlando Trip-Part 2

 

This article is about the actual planning for Orlando. Which in itself is probably the BIGGEST part of the entire vacation. If you don’t get this right, then the whole trip will suffer. Ok, now that I have scared you to death, let’s have some fun!

I will break this down into 4 parts. Accommodations, travel (flying or driving), if you fly-rental car, and attractions. More than likely (depending on where you are traveling from and how many is in your party) the accommodations will take the largest chunk out of your budget. In my planning, it was just 3 of us-2 adults and 1 child. You can also go to https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/ to purchase a package that can include everything.

  • ACCOMMODATIONS-The very first decision you need to make is WHERE??? Do you want to stay on the Disney Resort, off the resort nearby or in a more central location of all the attractions? Obviously if you stay at one of the Disney properties, it will cost more. We stayed half of our trip in Kissimmee (since we also included other attractions besides Disney) and then stayed the rest of our trip in our timeshare on the Disney property. But if your main focus are the Disney Parks, it is the most convenient. On the Disney property, there is 6 categories of accommodations. Ranging from low budget hotels and campgrounds to Deluxe Villas. The lowest price is the campground where you bring your own camper/RV starting at around $49 per night. The most expensive is around $2,000 per night.
  • TRAVEL- Depending on where you are coming from and how many is in your party, will determine if flying or driving is better.   If it will take more than 15 hours to drive, I would suggest flying. However, if you have a lot of people in your party, you might want to drive no matter where you are coming from. For us 3, it was easier to fly and rent a car when we arrived in Orlando. If you decide to drive, make sure you have plenty of things to do for the small (and big) kids in your party. Anytime we do a road trip, I normally put together a scavenger hunt. First, it keeps the children interested in the trip instead of stuck in an electronic of some sort. Second, the competition of the hunt gives an incentive at the end. It could be the winner gets to pick the place to eat once at the final destination. Or the winner can get a prize at one of the theme parks (which can be a souvenir you would probably have bought anyway). Third, the adults actually get into it as well. It gives the whole family some bonding time. Even if it’s a competition, make it fun. Also, you can play the license plate game. That’s always a great one. I usually put all the states on the same page as the scavenger hunt so I can keep up with the plates as well.
  • RENTAL CAR-This is a no brainer, I’m sure. But make sure you rent a vehicle that is large enough for your entire party AND still have enough space for luggage and room for comfort. No matter if you are only using the vehicle to go from the hotel to the theme parks, you don’t want everyone to be cramped in and start the days out on a sour note. If you are planning on staying on the Disney property and only doing the Disney Theme parks, I wouldn’t bother renting a vehicle. There are shuttle buses, trams, and ferries to whisk you from your hotel to the parks. There is also a shuttle from the airport to the Disney resorts. But if you are planning on visiting other attractions in the area, I would suggest a rental car.
  • ATTRACTIONS- There are just too many to list. Here are the places we visited. All 4 Disney Parks, both Universal Studio Parks, LEGOLAND in Winter Haven, FL (about 47 miles from Orlando) and SeaWorld. We didn’t have enough time to do anything but the theme parks. My favorite out of all of these was Hollywood Studios at Disney. My least favorite-SeaWorld. The reason SeaWorld was my least favorite (my husbands and 9 year old sons least favorite as well) it just seemed so much smaller than the other parks and was more of a large aquarium to me. Don’t get me wrong, it was ok but I probably wouldn’t go back in place of any of the other parks. It just wasn’t worth the expense (my opinion). So before you get to Orlando, figure out the attractions you and your family want to do for sure. Leave a day or 2 open in case you want to just relax or explore the smaller attractions. After you decide which attractions, make sure you plan the days you want to go where. I know this sounds a little overboard but if you don’t plan correctly, you won’t be able to get the most out of the parks. HINT-If you stay at one of the Disney Resorts, there are days where you can either go in early or stay late. Beware though, a lot of people are in these resorts and more than likely the majority will be using those extra hours as well. What I did was try to steer clear of the days that offered these extra hours. Not every day has extra hours and not every park are on the same day. I planned more on the days that stayed open later for everyone. Yes, I know it sounds weird but it worked for us. I would suggest taking one full day for each park you visit. No Disney Park hopping. There is so much to do in each and every park. We started slow at the beginning of the week and ended with our longest day.
  1. LEGOLAND-This was probably our most laid back day. If your kiddos like LEGO’s, make sure you try this park. It was nice, not too big and not too small. We were able to get everything in and still leave early evening. That allowed us to rest up for the next day.
  2. Universal Studios-We did decide to get the park-to-park tickets for Universal. We did everything we wanted to do (and then some) in one park and then headed to the other park. These parks are a walk apart so it doesn’t take hours to go between them like it does at Disney. We ended the day doing some of the big rides at the other Universal Park. The 2nd day, we made sure to go to all of our favorite rides again and enjoyed the Cinematic Spectacular at Universal Studios. Check the website for show times. You can print off maps from the website and highlight or circle the rides/shows you want to do the most. I highly suggest this. On the back of the map, write down the show times of each of the shows you want to do so you can plan before you get there so you are not wondering around trying to figure out what to do and lose precious time.
  3. SeaWorld- Did this on the spur of the moment and was not impressed. If you decide to go, make this a half day and definitely before you go to the exciting parks so you won’t be let down.
  4. Disney Parks-There is a cool option to customize each parks map for the rides/shows and attractions your family wants to do. Go to https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/ and sign up for My Disney Experience. You can make an itinerary and customize your own maps according to your itinerary.

One activity we did in each park is look for the hidden mickeys throughout each park. Mickey’s heads are hidden all through the park. It could be in a shrub shaped as his head to lights glowing in the shape of Mikey. Check out this website to get some clues on where to find them. http://www.hiddenmickeys.org/HiddenMickey.html. There is so much to do in each park, I’m going to give you a few things that we did that some might not know about.

  • Animal Kingdom-One of the cool things we found was the Wilderness Explorers. It is based off the movie UP. A very fun adventure that includes ALL of the areas in the park. You pick up a field guide near the front of the park and it leads you to each location with fun self-guided activities. You collect badges for each group of activities. Go here to learn more about the Wilderness Explorers https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/attractions/animal-kingdom/wilderness-explorers/.
  • EPCOT-For the young ones who like the show Phineas and Ferb, there is an Agent P World Showcase Adventure to complete. You have to choose a country to play in but it takes you all over that country. It was actually pretty interesting, even for the bigger kids (aka, my husband). They give you a communication device that looks like a cell phone that you get clues from. You use those clues to find the next clues. Very interactive and it gets the kiddos excited about the country they choose for their mission. For more information, check out this link https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/attractions/epcot/agent-p-world-showcase-adventure/
  • Hollywood Studios-My son loves Star Wars and this extremely interactive activity put him right in the middle of the action. They train with a Jedi master and then get to fight Darth Vader. Jedi Academy chooses 12 guests between the ages of 4 and 12 for each show throughout the day. So if you want to participate, you must be at the ABC Sound Studio at the beginning of the park opening. This was my son’s favorite activity the whole trip so it was most definitely worth it. For more information, check out this link. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/entertainment/hollywood-studios/star-wars-jedi-training-academy/
  • Magic Kingdom-This is probably the busiest park out of all the Disney Parks. Of course, it is probably the largest as well (my opinion). The castle alone is one of the most photographic locations out of the whole park (again, my opinion). So much to do at this park but one activity that I found out about is for both small and big kids (adults) alike. The Pirate’s League. Basically you sign up all the people in your party who wants to become a part of the Pirate’s League. At the appointed time, you go in and the resident pirates there (they really get into their characters) paint up your faces and you have the option of purchasing costumes (extra $). There are a range of pirate or fairy faces you can choose from. My husband and son got inducted into the Pirate’s League. The Pirate Characters make it very fun for all!!! We even were able to meet Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean (not the real Johnny Depp L ) but it was fun nonetheless.  To do this, I would highly recommend making reservations https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/magic-kingdom/pirates-league/

Jacob Pirate

As you can see, there is so much to plan and do in Orlando. I am a planner at heart but even if you are not, this trip is a MUST to plan. From experience, if you don’t plan your trip in Orlando, there will be a lot you overlook and it might be a little overwhelming when you get there if you don’t have a tentative itinerary. So I hope this article helps. Plus check these other sites out for more planning ideas:

http://www.visitorlando.com/plan-your-trip/

http://www.couponingtodisney.com/my-101-best-disney-world-tips/

http://www.thehandmadehome.net/2011/11/keys-to-the-kingdom-how-where-when/

 Most Importantly-HAVE A MAGICALLY FUN TRIP!!!!!!

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Blog image-Orlando
Magical? Yes, very! Planning-Overwhelmed? EXTREMELY!!!
I’m going to start out by saying, this was my family’s 3rd trip to Orlando since my son has been born. The first, he was way too young to appreciate it. The second, we were all sick throughout the entire week stay. So I was bound and determined to make this one really count. Since my son is 9, I knew that I would have to research deeper to find “bigger” kid activities. Even though when ANYONE goes to Orlando (especially Disney World), you become a kid instantly. Part of the MAGIC.
First things first. Before you even start planning the actual trip, there are a few things to get the family into the Magical! My son and I created a “Countdown to Orlando” wall hanger. Basically, a square piece of construction paper with characters of all the places we intended to visit in Orlando: Disney World, Universal Studios and Lego Land (in Winter Haven, FL). Then, we cut out strips of construction paper to make rings-one for each day remaining. We hooked the rings on the bottom making a chain. Each day, my son pulled one off and it built the anticipation. Especially when he would count the rings left after he pulled off the day’s ring.

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Another thing we did to get in the “Disney Mood” was watch some of our favorite Disney movies. (When we were actually at Disney World, we would ride a ride or watch a play and I’d really want to watch that movie.)
We didn’t do this one, but I really would have loved to. Create your own autograph book. It not only serves a purpose of letting your little kiddos get all the autographs of their favorite characters, but it also gets them (and you) pumped up for the trip. Get a small notebook (about a 3X5 notebook) and decorate the front. You can use stickers, embellishments, ribbons, etc… Make it your own. The dollar store has a lot of this for very cheap. Make sure you get a notebook with a lot of blank pages. You can also go a step further and designate pages for each character by putting the name or a sticker on it, then leave some in the back blank.
Order custom shirts for your whole family. I bought red t-shirts and put a Mickey Mouse silhouette on my husbands and sons. Mine had Minnie Mouse silhouette. On the back, I put our last name and a jersey number for each of us. My husband had 01-Me-02, my son-03. They were very cute. (See picture)Blog Picture-Orlando 2
This one didn’t actually get us into the mood per se, but was very necessary. I took an empty box (a tote, bag, laundry basket, etc… would do) and started filling it with the essentials for the trip. Little by little I would buy items that we could possibly need. Here is a brief list, you can add or take away at your discretion:
1. Ponchos-you can buy them at the park but I decided to purchase mine beforehand. Much cheaper and didn’t have to rush around to find a store in the park to buy one when it started to rain or we decided to ride a wet ride.
2. Kleenex
3. Anti-bacterial wipes-especially useful when we would finish a sticky treat
4. Anti-bacterial sanitizer hand gel with holder. The holder is very important so you can strap it on somewhere inside you backpack for easy access.
5. Glow sticks- During the parade and firework shows, there are a bunch of glow-in-the-dark items you can purchase but they are very expensive. You can get silly glow-in-the dark glasses and wands and the dollar store for a fraction of the cost.
6. Travel activities for the kids-whether you drive or fly, get a few things that will keep the kiddos preoccupied. At the Dollar store, they have travel size games-Yatzee, cards, etc… Coloring books, small cars for boys, and of course handheld video games.
7. Snacks-granola bars, fruit snacks, cheese crackers, etc…
8. Change-I know this sounds kind of weird but my son loves getting pressed pennies at the different locations we visit (btw-cheapest souvenir EVER!). Make sure you get a coin purse or baggie to put the coins in.
9. Small First-Aid kit-for all the scrapes and blisters that just comes with excitement, kids and walking miles a day in theme parks.
10. Small sewing kit-actually very handy, especially the safety pins.
11. If you have small children, take some stuffed animals or characters. Staying in the resorts on the Disney property, the housekeepers are said to arrange the stuffed characters in the room.
12. Also if you have smaller kids, instead of buying toys at the parks and pay double or triple the price, purchase a few small toys to give out during your stay. Maybe use it as a bonus at the end of the day as an incentive for good behavior. (Come on, we all do it-If you are good, you can have fill in the blank).
13. Sunscreen and lip balm. A definite must!
14. Any medicines that are prescribed and some that are not. A few examples-Pain reliever for the aches and pains, Pepto & ginger root pills for upset stomach and motion sickness. Anti-bacterial ointment for blisters and scrapes.
15. Camera case
16. Extra batteries for any electronics you take
17. Chargers for phones, tablets and video games
18. And of course, a backpack with multiple pockets but not so large that it breaks the back of the person who is carrying it.
Now the above is only a brief list that does not include the regular clothing, shoes and accessories.
Some more sites for packing lists and special activities to get in the mood:
http://wdwprepschool.com/the-ultimate-disney-world-packing-list/
http://www.123homeschool4me.com/2013/05/movies-to-watch-before-trip-to-disney.html
This article was more of preparation to do before you go to Orlando, besides the actual sitting down with a budget and planning the travel, accommodations and tickets. Look for Part 2 of our Orlando Trip for tips on budgeting and planning the itinerary.

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