Our Top Five Reasons to Stay at a Walt Disney World Resort

Disney Resort Benefits

There are many reasons why we suggest staying at a Disney resort when visiting Walt Disney World.  Proximity to the parks is one obvious reason as the Walt Disney World Resort in itself is large, and the closest non-Disney resorts feel far from all of the Disney magic.  However, if you’re looking for more than proximity to convince you of why you need to stay at a Disney Resort, check out these 5 reasons:

  • Free Parking at the Parks – When you stay at a Disney Resort, your resort information is saved to your Magicband. If you have your car or a rental car and would rather depend on your own transportation to get around, you will receive free parking for all of the Walt Disney World parks! Now, parking for the theme parks has climbed to $25 per day…SO, if you’re going to visit several theme parks all week…that free parking is a nice perk! While the appeal of this benefit is lessened by the new resort parking fee imposed by Disney, most resorts and hotels in Orlando now charge a parking fee. So if you stayed off property, paid the resort parking fee, and then had to pay to park at the Disney parks – you’ll be spending a pretty penny when you could save that money for more Mickey Ice Creams!
  • Extra Magic Hours – Only Disney Resort guests get to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours, which allows only those guests to enter the theme parks early and stay later on certain days. People staying at non-Disney hotels cannot enter or remain in the parks during these times…so that gives Disney Resort guests a big boost on their RPM’s!!! (Rides Per Minute average)…and we know how important that is!
  • Disney Transportation – Disney provides buses, boats, skyliners (soon!) and the cherished Monorails to help you get to theme parks, Disney resorts, and Disney Springs. When you stay at a Disney resort, you have immediate access to these forms of transportation and can hop to different Disney destinations much easier. Also, this is extremely useful if you are flying in from out of town, or if you just want to park your car and not see it again until you drive back home. TPG Tip: The Monorail is the golden child here, and if you go to Disney you have to ride them and take in the experience. The most magical ride you can take is when you start out at the Contemporary Resort and take a journey around the Seven Seas Lagoon…stopping at marvelous resorts like the Polynesian Village Resort and the Grand Floridian Resort. Then, you finish the journey at the epicenter…The Magic Kingdom!
Walt Disney World Monorail Contemporary
  • The Disney Magical Express (DME) – This FREE airport bus service provides transportation for Disney resort guests only. You get one trip from the airport when you arrive, and one trip back to the airport when you are departing. This is HUGE!…because getting a taxi/Uber/Lyft from the airport will take a big chunk out of the vacation budget the very second you step off of the plane!
  • DME Caution!!!  There are a few things to remember when taking the DME:  
    • It may take longer to get to your resort than taking an Uber/Lyft since the bus will make stops at a few neighboring resorts…if you are strapped for time, you may want to consider an Uber or Lyft. 
    • TAKE YOUR BAGS WITH YOU!!!… The DME provides luggage assistance and gives you tags to put on your luggage, which allows them to grab your bags at the airport and deliver them to your room for you. First, if your bag contains all the important things that you need for your trip (which it does) it’s a good idea to handle it yourself. Secondly, it will take DME Luggage Assistance 3 to 5 hours – maybe even 8 hours – to deliver your bags to your room. So, if you need your stuff right away, DEFINITELY grab your bags yourself.
  • Magic:  The last reason is less practical and more magical…You’re going to Disney not just to stay at a nice hotel and go to any old theme park.  You’re going to experience that MAGIC!!! And staying at a Disney Resort helps you do that! From the different themes of the resorts, to the decorations, to the stores filled with awesome Disney merchandise, and all the fun games and shows that happen at the Disney Resorts…you are bound to experience Disney magic and create life-long memories along the way!

So now that we’ve hopefully convinced you that a Disney Resort is the way to go, we’re sure you’re wondering about the best way to book a room and where to stay! Stay tuned next week, because we’ll be discussing renting Disney Vacation Club points to stay at the gorgeous DVC resorts for the same rate as booking a Moderate Resort through Disney!

Disney Resort Information

Ready to book a Walt Disney World Resort Vacation?  Visit the official Walt Disney World page to book!

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The One Thing You Need to Master for a Successful Walt Disney World Trip

This may seem basic to those who visit Walt Disney World regularly but we have seen too often lately guests who are planning to visit the resort and have not even utilized the one thing that can make or break your Disney trip:  the My Disney Experience app.

Gone are the days of just showing up to the park and winging it.  Fastpasses in general have prolonged regular queue lines (that’s a whole separate discussion) and now these Fastpasses can be planned ahead of time.  Off-seasons are also pretty much a thing of the past, so to enjoy the popular attractions, eat at the highly-desirable restaurants, and make your park time more efficient, you NEED to understand how to use this app to your benefit.

Here are our basic tips to using My Disney Experience to plan your trip:

Fastpasses

You need to make Fastpasses well before your trip if you are set on riding certain popular attractions.  These attractions include:  Flight of Passage, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Slinky Dog Dash, Peter Pan’s Flight, Soarin’, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror.  Now some of these attractions can still have Fastpasses closer to your park day and even on your park day, but if you want to know for sure that you’ll be able to get on one of these rides without a long wait – make the Fastpasses as soon as you’re able.

If you are staying at a Disney resort, you are able to make Fastpasses 60 days from your check-in date and you’re able to make them for up to 10 days past your check-in date.  This gives you a great advantage over guests staying at off-site resorts.  Make sure you are ready to grab your Fastpasses at 7 A.M. Eastern on that 60th day from your check-in date.

If you are staying at a non-Disney resort, you are able to make Fastpasses at 30 days from your planned park day.  Don’t fret, while you may not be able to get the most popular attraction Fastpasses, you will still be able to grab some highly desirable ones, so make sure you are up at 7 A.M. on that day to make your selections.

Important – You can make three Fastpasses in advance.  When making your Fastpass selections, try to make your time selections as early as possible in the day and as close together as possible.  This will allow you to use your three Fastpasses and then make additional selections one at a time.  As soon as you scan your Magicband for your third attraction, get on the app in the line and start looking for your next Fastpass.  Continue to do this throughout the day to maximize your time in the park. 

PLUS, if you plan on park-hopping, once you’ve used your third Fastpass, you can make a selection at any of the other parks.

Dining Reservations

Dining reservations require a bit more advance planning since you can make these reservations at 180 days from your desired date.  You can begin making your dining reservations at 6 A.M. on the 180-day mark, so if you have a specific restaurant in mind, be sure to be on the app at that time to lock in that reservation.  Some restaurants that are harder to get are Cinderella’s Royal Table, Be Our Guest Restaurant, California Grill, Victoria & Albert’s, ‘Ohana, Chef Mickey’s, and Beaches & Cream.

Mobile Ordering

This feature is one that you need to be taking advantage of if you will be dining at any quick service restaurants at Walt Disney World.  We are amazed whenever we see how many people are waiting in long lines at Cosmic Ray’s rather than ordering on the app beforehand and then skipping the line to pick up their meals.  Mobile ordering is super easy to use.  You pick everything you want, pay for the food on the app, then when you are close to the restaurant, tap that you are there and ready for them to prepare your food.  Go to the designated counter to pick up and you are eating in no time! 

This is a huge time-saver when you are trying to maximize your park time!  Also, they have now added allergy-friendly menus to order from as well!  This feature is such a life-saver on a busy park day!

These are the basic features you absolutely should be using when visiting Walt Disney World.  There are additional features in the app that are also helpful including:  parade, fireworks, and show times; character meet and greet locations; park hours; restroom locations.

We love helping making Disney days easier for those who are not totally familiar with how to maximize their trip.  If you ever have a trip-planning question, please feel free to DM us on Instagram or Facebook!

Make sure you check out our Walt Disney World park-specific pages here to see the highlighted tips for each park!

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Walt Disney World: 13 Best Places to Rest in the Parks | Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World

Imagine you are walking through one of the Walt Disney World parks on a hot day – or maybe it’s not so hot (there are a few months where that is true!) but the crowds are heavy.  You get on a few rides, you take in a stage show, and now you need to take a breather.  Where do you go to cool down or to just get a minute to sit, recharge, and get (some) quiet before heading back out for more fun?  Here is a list of some of our favorite spots to refresh while in the Walt Disney World parks.

Places to Rest in Walt Disney World Parks

  1. Tomorrowland Transit Authority (PeopleMover); Magic Kingdom – This has got to be one of the top places to take a seat and take a breath.  There is typically only a short line for this attraction which makes it an easy go-to when you need a break but still want to feel like you are experiencing the park.  Countless children have fallen asleep on this ride and probably a few adults too.  This is one of our favorite ways to take a break at the Magic Kingdom.
  2. Spaceship Earth; Epcot – Our love for this attraction runs deep.  It is a slow-moving ride through the history of man and technology.  The narration is soothing, yet interesting.  The lighting is low and calming.  It’s the perfect place to just sit and let your head chill while not having to deal with the noise of crowds. This ride does sometimes have a line, but the line can be deceiving.  The ride is constantly moving so it moves the  line pretty quickly.  This is a definite must-do if you’re at Epcot looking for a breather.
  3. ABC Commissary; Hollywood Studios –  This restaurant has always been a favorite place to stop and cool off or to take cover when it’s raining.  It is pretty large, so you’ll rarely have to fight for seating.  There are also TV’s where you can watch clips of the popular shows currently airing on ABC.  It’s also situated at an in-between point from the front of the park to the back, so it’s a perfect midway stopping point.
  1. Carousel of Progress; Magic Kingdom – This is another great attraction that never has a long line.  Plus you get to go inside and sit on comfy seats.  You could actually take a short nap in there, but why would you want to?  We never get tired of watching this attraction’s family venture through time while singing about it! This ride is especially great on those unbearably hot days and you just need to get some sweet A/C.
  2. O Canada!; Epcot – This is a Circle-Vision 360 movie where you learn all about Canada with Martin Short. The downfall with this one is that there is no seating, but you do get to soak in some A/C and take a break from the crowds for a bit.  Another upside – there is never a line for this.
  3. Walt Disney Presents; Hollywood Studios – If you are looking to find a quiet setting to just mosey rather than a ride, this is the place.  Here you can walk at your own pace through an air-conditioned building while viewing the timeline of Walt’s life and artifacts from the rise of the Disney franchise.  Crowds are usually low here, so it can be a nice little escape in between attractions.
  1. The Hall of Presidents; Magic Kingdom – This attraction is in an auditorium which means comfy seats and air conditioning. There’s a bonus with this one because you’re basically sitting in a movie theater.  Everyone is quiet, it’s dark, and it’s the perfect temperature.  You can get a solid nap in here or just chill out and recharge. And bonus! You might learn a little while you’re in there!
  2. The Seas with Nemo & Friends; Epcot – Another great place to relax, especially with all of the underwater scenes.  Another slow moving ride which gives you time to rest and just take it all in.  Or you can just close your eyes and listen to the characters sing about the “Big Blue World”.  Once you exit the ride, you can go chill and watch the dolphins swim around while you recharge!
  3. Finding Nemo The Musical; Animal Kingdom – This is an adorable and visually stunning musical version of the Finding Nemo story.  It is held in a large auditorium with seats which makes it a great place to sit down, cool off, and rest while taking in a great show!
  4. Old Innoventions Building; Epcot – If you are really just looking for a cool place to sit and people watch, the old Innoventions building is the place for you.  There are tables and chairs to sit and eat a snack plus there are pretty comfy couches to sit and relax while you listen to the greatest theme park music on loop.  There are also charging stations on the side of the couches!
  1. Upstairs at Pinocchio Village Haus; Magic Kingdom – We recently discovered this little gem.  If you are grabbing a bite to eat and don’t want to squeeze into a tiny table downstairs, check to see if the upstairs is open here. There are some tables inside, but there are also tables outside and people rarely use them.  Now if you are looking to cool off and it’s the middle of July, don’t go sit out there.  But if it is a cooler day in October or November and you desire to have some peace and breathing room, scope this spot out. It gives you a chance to stare at the back of Cinderella’s Castle and people watch while taking a break.
  2. Star Wars Launch Bay; Hollywood Studios – While this area won’t necessarily give you a break from the crowds, it will get you out of the outdoor elements. The nice thing about this spot is there are Stormtroopers walking around and interacting with guests, meet and greets with Chewbacca and Kylo Ren, and pretty neat Star Wars props and art to check out!
  3. The American Adventure; Epcot – This show has a similar feel to the Hall of Presidents except the show runs almost 30 minutes.  You could easily get a solid 20 minute nap in and the seats are pretty comfortable too!  Now, we actually suggest watching this show because the animatronics are pretty great and the show is really well done.  Either way, it’s a really nice way to get off your feet while experiencing a bit of classic Epcot.

These are our favorite resting spots in Walt Disney World.  Do you have one we didn’t list?  Comment below!

Walt Disney World Parks Information

Want to learn more about the Walt Disney World Parks?  Check out our information pages here:  Disney Parks

For the latest Walt Disney World news and tips, check out our other Disney blog posts:  Disney Blog Posts

For Walt Disney World ticket information, visit the official Walt Disney World page:  Walt Disney World Parks

Don’t see one of your favorite Walt Disney World spots on the list above?  Comment below with yours!

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!


		  
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Theme Park Essentials: Strollers

disney stroller

Theme Park Essentials

We’ve all seen it:  the sea of strollers parked at Magic Kingdom.  While they can be a burden, they are a necessity when traveling with young kids to the Disney parks.  To ensure a stress-free trip, it’s best to know which kind of stroller will work for your needs. That’s why this installment of our Theme Park Essentials is covering Strollers.  The parks get crowded and hot  so you’ll want to make sure you have the right stroller for your trip.




1) Umbrella Stroller

We highly suggest a simple umbrella stroller.  There a few reasons these are great.  First, they easily fold up – which is huge especially when travelling to Walt Disney World.  At some point during your trip you will probably take a tram or a bus to your destination and you’ll need to fold up your stroller quickly and easily.  Second, umbrella strollers are typically cheaper than a more deluxe stroller.  Third, these strollers are easier to transport if you are flying.  Many people opt to rent strollers rather than bring their own when flying – which is a great option – but having a great umbrella stroller that you can just check for your flight and then have for your whole trip could save you money.

Here is one we highly suggest based on how easily it folds up.  Plus it only weighs 9 pounds!  If you are flying to Disney, you could either use this as a carry-on or pack it in a checked bag!  The only downside is the wheels are not as great as a jogging stroller.  However, the convenience of this stroller definitely makes up for it!  The link to Amazon below has all of the details plus check out the video below of the stroller folding up!

If you’d rather go for something less expensive, something that will just help get from point A to point B, this adorable Disney stroller is a great example of an easy to close stroller that will keep your little one from tiring out too quickly!

2) Deluxe Stroller

These types of strollers are obviously going to give you more for your money.  You get more storage, a comfortable seat, better handling, and better shading.  These are all factors that can improve your child’s and your experience in the park. If you’re going to bring a deluxe stroller, you want to keep in mind that you’ll need it to close easily.  These strollers are also great because they allow you to easily navigate the parks, even when it’s crowded.  These strollers allow you to take turns or get up and down curbs with minimal effort.  That’s important when you’re trying to squeeze through a crowd of people on Main Street U.S.A.

I can tell you from personal experience, I recently used this stroller for a day at Disney with my 8-year-old niece.  This stroller held up perfectly even though she’s older, the handling was beautiful, and she was able to have a morning at Epcot and an evening at Magic Kingdom with no meltdowns!  We even made it to fireworks after a long, hot day!  This stroller was a life-saver, so don’t overlook this option even for your older kids.  You’ll get more out of your day!




3) Double Strollers

When you’re traveling with multiple kids, double strollers are a great idea.  There are some great options for double strollers out there – we suggest using something of higher quality so your back isn’t killing you by the end of the day.  We also need to put a note of caution regarding triple strollers – don’t do it!  Double strollers are still somewhat easy to navigate through the parks but once you get into triple and beyond, the struggle begins.  Triple strollers that are three wide (side by side) get too wide to be able to easily get around the parks and crowds.  Triple strollers that are three long (one in front of the other) are just a disaster in the parks.  Most of them are not able to turn easily and just create frustration and sore muscles for the parent!

4) Stroller Accessories

No matter which stroller you choose to bring, we cannot stress enough the importance of keeping your child cool and out of the sun.  Orlando summers are HOT.  There are plenty of great accessories out there to enhance your stroller such as stroller fans, covers, and cooling pads.  Below are a few examples:

Stroller Sun Cover – click picture for more info!

Stroller Fan – click picture for more info!

Stroller Liner to keep cool – click picture for more info!





Have you found a great stroller to use while in the parks?  
Tell us about it below!

Be sure to check out our Theme Park Essentials:  Top Portable Fans post!

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New Updates to FastPass+ on the My Disney Experience App

My Disney Experience

It’s time to rejoice!  Disney has finally released some much needed updates to their My Disney Experience app with the updates specifically aimed at FastPass+.

With the latest app update, you are now able to add a fourth FastPass+ selection right on your phone!  Before the update, you were required to visit a FastPass+ kiosk if you wanted to add an additional attraction after using your three booked FastPasses.  For a system that is supposed to promote efficiency, having to go find a kiosk in the park and then wait in line to add an additional FastPass was not efficient.

Disney has also updated the process for booking FastPasses.  Previously, Disney would give you four different plans to choose from based on your preferred attractions.  You were not able to select specific times and you had to select three FastPasses.  That has all changed.  Now you can book less than three FastPasses for a day and you can also select a specific time.  See the screenshot below:

FastPass+

Make sure that you have the latest version of the My Disney Experience app before making your next FastPass selections!

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Theme Park Guru Quick Tips: Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

Here is our next installment of Theme Park Guru Quick Tips!

This month we’re giving you some great tips for your visit to the Magic Kingdom!




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The Confession of a Disney Fanatic – I Never Watched the Parade

Festival of Fantasy

Hey everyone, Jen here.  So let’s start this out by making something known:  I am a Disney fanatic.  I have vacationed at Walt Disney World basically since birth (sometimes staying on property for two weeks at a time) and married my best friend there in 2009.  I live and breathe Disney.  Now that we’ve established that, I have a confession to make.  Growing up and even into my adult years, I never watched the Magic Kingdom parade.

If I was in the Magic Kingdom at 3:00, you’d find me far away from the parade route.  This was instilled in me at a young age by my very theme park-efficient dad.  It’s not that we didn’t like the parade, it was that we knew our time could be better spent hitting rides while the wait times were shorter due to the parade drawing crowds away from the rides.  This is a basic theme park tip that many people consider when trying to maximize their time in the park and for us it was a no-brainer.

As I got older, the parade did start to intrigue me but still I resisted and used that time to maximize what we like to call our “Rides Per Minute”.  All of that changed on March 9, 2014.




This was the day the new Magic Kingdom parade, Festival of Fantasy, made its debut.  This parade was clearly different.  There was so much hype around it, I couldn’t resist any longer.  I gave in and finally took the time to watch this parade.  After experiencing the parade, I can honestly say that for the first time I actually felt my time was better spent sitting on the curb of Main Street waiting an hour just to experience it than riding a few extra rides.

Everything about Festival of Fantasy is magical:  the characters, the costumes, the floats, the music.  It brings the Magic Kingdom to life every day and makes adults really feel like kids again.  Don’t believe me?  Check out these pics:

 

I will say that here at TPG we still do advise guests who do not desire to see the parade or those who have been able to experience it already to use that time to experience the rides, however I strongly feel that you should at least take the time to see this parade once during your visit.

Want to see video of Festival of Fantasy or just want to relive the magic of this parade?  Check out our full parade video below:

Which Magic Kingdom parade is your favorite?  Tell us below!  Is anyone else like me and never took the time to watch the parade?

 

 

 

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Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival Highlights




Flower & Garden Festival 2016

The 22nd Flower & Garden Festival at Disney’s Epcot is in full swing!  There are some beautiful topiaries to check out and some delicious food to try out this year!  Below are some of the amazing topiaries on display this year:




 

Flower & Garden Festival Merchandise

There is also a great selection of Flower & Garden Festival Merchandise this year – especially in the Festival Center.  Here are a few pictures of the available merchandise this year:




Flower & Garden Festival Treats

There are plenty of food options to try this year at the Flower & Garden Festival.  Here are just a few of the amazing treats you can try:

Flower and Garden Festival
Pineapple Soft Serve and Violet Frozen Lemonade




Will you be heading to the Flower & Garden Festival this year?  Be sure to check out the Garden Rocks Concert lineup here – concerts happening each weekend!

Want to be prepared before heading to Epcot?  Head over to our Epcot page to read our tips and info for the park!

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Disney’s Frozen Ride at Epcot Update

Disney's Frozen

Disney’s Frozen Ride

Here is our latest update Disney’s Frozen Ride at Epcot!  There have been some improvements, but not as much as we had hoped – apparently due to a problem at the construction site.  Check out our video for more details!

 

Be sure to check out our other videos by heading to our Media Page!




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