CHRISTMAS IN WDW: A REVIEW

CHRISTMAS IN WDW: A REVIEW

This past Christmas was my first time experiencing it with the Disney magic. I’d always dreamed of spending the holiday in WDW and experiencing all of the unique offerings in all of the park. This year, my fiance and I went all in and tried to experience as much as we could during the holiday season, and we pretty much hit everything!

I absolutely loved the International Festival of the Holidays at EPCOT along with the Candlelight Processional (you can read all about that experience here: EPCOT’S CANDLELIGHT PROCESSIONAL: A REVIEW), Flurry of Fun at Hollywood Studios was a great time, and of course for nostalgic reasons The Holidays at Disney Springs was my favorite. One of my favorites also happened to be the gingerbread displays at the resorts! There was one experience, however, that I was very disappointed in – and that was Christmas Eve in the Magic Kingdom.

I didn’t have the chance to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party this year, but I didn’t stress it too much as I knew that the week of Christmas I’d be able to experience just about everything unique about the party for free. Christmas Eve is the biggest night of the year in my family (we’re Italian, it’s a huge deal) and I knew I would be upset that I was missing our yearly party, so I saved Christmas Eve to experience all of the Magic Kingdom Christmas fun – and I wish I hadn’t.

There were several things that were a must do for me in MK on Christmas Eve – A Frozen Holiday Wish, Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration Castle Show, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, and of course Holiday Wishes fireworks. So, the first experience we planned to see for the day was the parade at 3:30. My fiance and I got to the park around 1:30 to grab a bite to eat first, and it was then that we knew we were already way too late.

Main Street was already  lined with people sitting and waiting for  the parade that was two hours away. The walkways were so crowded that you honestly couldn’t take two  steps without running into someone. Also, I’m pretty sure about a dozen strollers, scooters, and wheelchairs rammed into my ankles within the first five minutes of being there. I knew to expect crowds, however I didn’t know it got this crowded.

After quickly eating, we finally found a spot for the parade about an hour before it started. We didn’t get a front row spot, but were behind a few people with more people behind us. Once the parade started, people were pushing their way up so much to the point where my fiance and I were sandwiched between people. Also, there were kids on their parents shoulders right in front of us, so we could barely see the parade itself. This is where the disappointment started.

After the parade, we had Fastpass+ reservations for the Jingle Cruise. When we showed up within our timeframe, the FP line was so far back that we were near Aladdin’s ride. At the end of the line was a cast member, who informed us it was a 45 minute wait – for the Fastpass+  line! So, we instead decided to go on Pirates of  the Caribbean, which had a suspiciously low wait time which was completely inaccurate and, was in fact, a much longer wait than stated.

After Pirates, we decided to head back to the castle to watch the Frozen castle show. It was about 5:00 at this point, so the show was almost an hour and a half out. We ended up finding pretty good spots and sat to wait. It was a beautiful sight, as always, to watch the castle light up minute by minute while it was getting darker and darker out. Finally, it was showtime and I was so excited – until parents began putting their children on their shoulders yet again and the crowds began pushing forward. Once again, my view was completely blocked and I was unable to see a majority of the show.

By this time, the park seemed  somehow ten times more crowded and my fiance and I just decided we’d enjoy the night more if we headed home and had a lowkey evening. Making the choice to miss the fireworks and Mickey’s castle show was a hard one, but I know there is always next year.

Now, I feel like I need to pause and say that I am not one to complain about standing in lines, crowds in Disney, or Disney in general. It is my happy place. However, being a tad bit homesick already had me in a bit of a funk, and then having a hard time experiencing everything I’d been looking forward to for years was just a bit of a let down. I also know that I have the opportunity to experience  these shows for years and years to come, and for some of these families it might be their once in a lifetime experience.

Overall, this was definitely a learning experience for me. Every other holiday event in WDW that I got to partake in was a great time, and it was because I hit those things before the busiest week of the year. Next year, my fiance and I know to head to MK a little earlier and make those memories when it isn’t so wild.

Would I recommend WDW during the holiday season? Absolutely – it is beyond beautiful and magical and everything I’d hoped. But, would I recommend WDW the week between Christmas and New Years? Probably not.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, and has a safe New Years!Below are a few pictures of our time in MK on Christmas Eve. If you enjoyed today’s post, be sure to subscribe to our blog to be notified of any new posts. Happy holidays, see ya real soon 🙂

EPCOT’S CANDLELIGHT PROCESSIONAL: A REVIEW

EPCOT’S CANDLELIGHT PROCESSIONAL: A REVIEW

Last night, I finally had the chance to see EPCOT’s Candlelight Processional in person. This event, part of EPCOT’s International Festival of the Holidays, is held in the American pavilion in World Showcase. Alongside a mass choir, the Voices of Liberty, and a 50 piece orchestra, a celebrity narrator tells the story of Christmas.

This event is held daily during three showtimes: 5:00 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8:15 p.m. and is running through December 30th. To see the show, you don’t have to purchase a ticket, but to guarantee a seat you can reserve a dining package for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at several restaurants around EPCOT.

There have  been plenty of well known celebrity narrators this year, including Neil Patrick Harris and John Stamos, but I made it a point to experience my first Candlelight Processional narrated by the beautiful Auli’i Cravalho (also known as the voice actor of Moana).

For this review, I am going to focus on the dining package reservation vs. standby line, the narrator, and the overall experience. I’ll start by saying, however, that this is absolutely a must-do experience if you are on property or nearby when it is offered! I was blown away by the event itself, and I don’t think any words that I type will truly do it justice. But, let’s jump right in!

Dining Package Reservations vs. Standby Line

The Candlelight Processional is a free event with park  admission, however the standby line can get pretty insane – especially if the celebrity narrator is well known. As this was my first experience attending the event, I did plenty of research and found out that it was common for people to wait in the standby line for over three hours to grab a seat at one of the three showings.

One way to avoid the standby line and guarantee a seat, however, is to make a dining package reservation for the day of the event you’d like to see. There are several restaurants that offer the dining package, and have options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, the dining  packages can be expensive, reaching up to $70 per adult for a dinner.

I went back and forth between planning to wait in the standby line and just booking a reservation, but I decided [only a few hours before we left] that I didn’t want to chance not  being able to see Cravalho in person, since Moana is an absolute favorite of mine. I couldn’t find any available dinner reservations, but there were plenty of lunch reservations available and I ended up snagging  a 2:30 reservation at Garden Grill. The lunch included beverages, an appetizer, a family style meal, and dessert. Also included was a ticket for the 6:45 showing of the Candlelight Processional.

It ended up being a  good choice doing the dining package, because the standby line was seriously insane. Even the dining package line was crazy long, and we got there 45 minutes  before the event even started. We ended up finding out that they use the dining package to reserve 75% of the seating in the theater, leaving only 25% for standby guests.

So, long story short – as far as standby vs. dining  package, I would suggest the dining package if it is your first time seeing the event or if it is a celebrity narrator you just have to see. I definitely wouldn’t have paid for the dining package someone were  performing that I didn’t really care to see, but then again I don’t think I’d stand in a three hour line either!

Celebrity Narrator 

I mean… What can I say really?! Auli’i Cravalho is just as lively and spirited as Moana, and it really made the overall experience that much more magical. It was so obvious that she was honored to be there, so into the story, and absolutely loved the choir. You could see her mouthing and singing along to the songs with the chorus behind her, and she just seemed so moved and touched by the experience. I would absolutely go see her ten times over!

The Overall Experience 

I have to start out by saying that, in a country where there is so much fuss over “political correctness” and sensitivity, I am very surprised Disney puts on such a religious show. Between the story itself, the songs that accompanied it, and the overall story – it is a very Christian ceremony. That being said, I fear that one day (sooner, rather than later), someone somewhere will protest this event and it will be a thing of the past. I would absolutely recommend seeing it within the next upcoming years if it is a bucket list event.

Overall, it was truly a magical experience that really puts you in the holiday spirit. It was nice to be so immersed in a show that discussed the true reason for the season in such a beautiful way. The orchestra was outstanding, the choir was breathtaking, and the story was so beautifully told. It really has you step back from the hustle and bustle of the holiday itself and appreciate what this is all truly about.

All in all, like I said about three times above, this is a must-do experience if you’re on property for the holidays. The celebrity narrators are a nice touch, but really it’s all about the message and the beauty behind it all. Below, I’ll add a few clips of some of my favorite parts of the show (they’re poor quality, done on my iPhone – sorry in advance :)!

Thanks for reading today’s post! Be sure to subscribe to our blog to be notified of any new posts. Happy holidays, see ya real soon!

MICKEY’S VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS PARTY: A GUIDE

MICKEY’S VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS PARTY: A GUIDE

As if Halloween hadn’t come and gone quick enough, this upcoming Friday (November 8th) marks the first day of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! Within days, Magic Kingdom was transformed from spooky szn to the holidays, and I couldn’t be more excited.

There is a lot to look forward to and do in WDW during the holidays (watch out for a future blog post where I outline all of the fun events and activities available on property!), but MVMCP is a can’t miss event. In anticipation of the event, here is a guide of everything you need to know about the event!


General Information

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is held select nights November 8th through December 21. The party is a hard ticketed event, which means that you need to purchase a ticket for the event separately from a general park admission ticket. The prices for the party range from $95 – $125 depending on the night the event is held and how big of a crowd they anticipate (higher prices = anticipated busier party dates). There are also special rates for annual pass holders and Florida residents.

MVMCP starts at 7:00 p.m. and ends at 12:00 a.m. Just like a ticket to Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party, even though the event doesn’t start until 7:00, your party ticket alone will get you into Magic Kingdom as early as 4:00, which I highly recommend taking advantage of! Doing this will allow you to grab a bite to eat and ride a few attractions before the fun of the party begins. There is so much to do at the party itself that it is hard to fit everything you want to do into one visit, so arriving earlier and checking some things off of your “must do” list will be a big help in the end!


Unique Offerings  

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party has a lot of unique offerings for guests including special fireworks, trick-or-treating, a special parade, and fun shows on the castles stage. The party also includes treats unique to the party as well as special character meet-and-greets! Below, I will list and briefly talk about the unique offerings.

A Frozen Holiday Wish

Watch Queen Elsa take over Cinderella’s Castle by illuminating it with the Castle Dream Lights. This 7 minute show is put on twice a night and definitely puts you in the spirit for the party!

Pro tip: Try and catch the later offering of this show. The first one is always the busiest and most crowded, especially because it will also have guests who do not have tickets to the event and haven’t left the park yet.

Holiday Wishes Fireworks

Only put on once a night, this merry version of the old Wishes fireworks will put you in a magical holiday mood. Like HalloWishes, this fireworks show has a grand finale that includes 360 degree fireworks around the park.

Pro tip: Find a spot between Casey’s Corner and the statue of Mickey and Walt to watch this show. A spot too close to the castle or too far up Main Street will limit your view!

Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration

See the castle come alive four times a night as Mickey invites all of his friends over for a holiday themed celebration. The stage show includes tons of your favorite characters along with fireworks and castle projections.

Pro tip: Unlike the fireworks, try to get a spot for this show closer to the stage – this way, you’ll be able to see and appreciate all of the little details!

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

Separate from the pre-recorded Disney Christmas Parade that airs Christmas day, MVMCP offers two showtimes for a unique Christmas themed parade experience. Watch as your favorite characters pass by in their best holiday outfits. Of course, Santa ends the parade with his reindeer sending his wishes to all.

Pro tip:Watch the later parade as it is less crowded, and more special to see with the floats and characters lit up in the dark night!

A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show

Join your favorite Tomorrowland characters including Mike and Sully, Buzz, Stitch, and more for a 20 minute holiday themed stage show. The show is put on several times a night and is on the stage located in between Carousel of Progress and Space Mountain. 

Unique Character Meet-and-Greets

One of the main draws to any hard ticketed event is the unique character meet-and-greet experiences offered. Usually, the characters that you can find at these events are those you can only come by during special parties. Some unique offerings set for this years MVMCP include Jack Skellington (in his Sandy Claws suit), Moana, Scrooge McDuck, Mary Poppins, and so many more.

Pro tip: Most of the character meet and greet options during the party are those that normally aren’t in the park, so if they have your favorite character be sure to find where they are stationed!

Snow on Main Street

Periodically throughout the night, snow will fall down on Main Street USA. Nothing like a flurry from Elsa to get into the holiday spirit!

Holiday Treat Stops

Much like the trick-or-treating experience at MNSSHP, there are stations set up throughout the park offering complimentary hot chocolate, cookies, and other treats. The stations are set up and open until the end of the party, and there is no limit to how many you visit!

Pro tip: There are gluten free and allergy friendly options available upon request!

Party Merchandise

If you are a shopper like me, you will fall in love with all of the merchandise for the party! From unique popcorn buckets to limited-edition MagicBands and pins, to clothing and holiday inspired ears, there is so much to choose from! The best part is – most of the items are available for purchase throughout the entirety of the season, not just on party nights! A few of my favorites include:

  • Limited edition Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Magic Band (only 3,000 made!)
  • Unique advent calendars (my favorite right now is the 12 Days of Socks calendar!)
  • Holiday-inspired Spirit Jersey

One-of-a-Kind Treats

Disney does an amazing job at creating themed treats for their hard ticketed events, and MVMCP doesn’t fall short! With dozens of items to choose from, you’ll be sure to find something you must try! A few of my favorites this year include:

  • Peppermint Ice Cream Sundae: Find this minty treat at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street USA!
  • Sandy Claws Push-Pop: Similar to the Jack Skellington Push Pop offered at MNSSHP, this cake push-pop with pudding and sprinkles can be found at Sleepy Hollow in Liberty Square.
  • Holiday Cinnamon Roll: A Mickey-shaped cinnamon roll with red and green icing over top and a white chocolate snowflake, this treat can be found at Main Street Bakery on Main Street USA!

Photo Op’s

There are several PhotoPass special photo opportunities being offered during the party. Special themed magic shots as well as larger-than-life props can be used to make your photos extra special. To take advantage of these photo ops, find a PhotoPass cast member, utilize Memory Maker, and you will have unique holiday pictures for extra memories!

Some locations from last year where the special photo options were available included the main entrance, Fantasyland, Ariel’s Grotto, Main Street, Haunted Mansion, and more. Just ask a PhotoPass cast member for more information!


I could go on and on about this party, but I think I’m going to stop it here. I plan on attending the event very soon, so be on the lookout for a full review/memory blog about the event around then! I know I’m very excited that it is here, and I can’t wait to head to the event!

Thanks for reading! If you liked today’s post, be sure to like it down below and subscribe to my blog so you can be notified when I post new content! See ya soon 🙂

WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR PARK BAG?!

WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR PARK BAG?!

If you read last weeks blog post, 10 ROOKIE MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN VISITING WDW!, you saw that one of the rookie mistakes I mentioned is not bringing a backpack to the parks. Park days can be long and tiring, and it is best to be prepared. Today, I am going to list the things that I feel are most important to pack in your park bag!

First, let’s start with the necessities. These are things that I feel are items you need with you in the parks. Sure, you can purchase these items in the park if you need them, but it’s better if you have them readily available! Here’s a list of ten necessities to pack in your park bag:

  1. Bandaids. Walking over 10 miles a day, you or someone in your party is bound to get blisters. Do yourself a favor and come prepared with a few bandaids!
  2. Ziplock bags. These will be another life savor! I always carry at least one sandwich size and one gallon size ziplock bag in my backpack. If it rains or you choose to go on a ride where you may get wet, you can stick your phones, cameras, and other valuables in these to keep them safe and dry!
  3. Ponchos/Personal Umbrella. Weather can be unpredictable in central Florida. Come prepared with ponchos or an umbrella so you don’t have to find shelter during a downpour.
  4. Necessary medicines. Aside from any medication that are necessary for you to take throughout the day, it is always a good idea to carry Tylenol and Dramamine in case an emergency arises. I usually buy the travel tubes and throw them in my bag to keep handy at all times!
  5. Change of socks. If you wear tennis shoes to the park, always be sure to carry a spare pair of socks. If you get caught in a rainstorm or go on a water ride, your socks are likely to get wet and likely will need to be changed!
  6. Water/Reusable Water Bottle. Water is pretty pricey in the parks, so I am always sure to pack a reusable water bottle or a bottle of water if I have one handy. You can always refill your water bottles at water fountains around the parks, or ask for a cup of ice water from quick service locations.
  7. Snacks. Snacks are another factor that can be pretty expensive in the parks. Pack light snacks such as chips, fruit, or granola bars in your backpack to munch on in-between meals!
  8. Wireless charger. If you want to take photos throughout the day or utilize the My Disney Experience app, your phone is likely to die before the night is over. To avoid this, be sure to pack a pre-charged wireless charger!
  9. Deodorant. Central Florida does get very hot – and humid. You’ll need to freshen up halfway through a park day, and having deodorant in your backpack will be a lifesaver. Seriously, you’ll thank me later.
  10. Tissues. You never know when you’ll need a tissue! Be sure to carry a small travel pack in case of emergency!

Even with all of those items I’ve listed above, there are also a few other items I never head to the park without. Although they aren’t necessities, they are things that I utilize during every visit to the park! Here are a few extra fun items to consider packing in your park bag:

  • Autograph book and pen. I am always sure to bring my autograph book, as I love meeting characters in the parks! Character meet-and-greet’s are unique interactions, and they are best documented with a photo and an autograph.
  • Sunglasses. It’s central Florida, it’s sunny. Enough said!
  • Printed daily itinerary. After making my dining reservations and Fastpass+ selections, I always print my daily itinerary from Disney’s website online. In case my phone dies or something happens, I like having my reservation confirmation numbers with the times and locations on hand.
  • Permanent marker. During every Disney vacation, I would have my top favorite character sign my MagicBand as an extra souvenir. My fiancé does something similar, as he has Pluto sign his Pluto hat whenever we do a meet-and-greet with that character. This is when a permanent marker comes in handy!

There you have it, the items I feel are most important to pack in a park bag! As a side note, I would like to clarify that I am an adult without kids, so if you do have kids your packing list will look a bit different. These are just necessities I find that are useful during each trip I’ve taken to WDW!

I hope you enjoyed todays post! Let me know in the comments what some items are that you feel are necessary to pack in a park bag. Be sure to like this post, and subscribe to my blog to be notified of any new postings! Thanks for reading, I’ll see ya soon! 🙂

10 ROOKIE MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN VISITING WDW!

10 ROOKIE MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN VISITING WDW!

When visiting WDW resort for either day or a week-long vacation, it is important to have  a game plan. There is so much to do, a lot of ground to cover, and a ton of people all around you. It will make your time in WDW so much more enjoyable and efficient if you can avoid some mistakes that most rookies and first timers do when visiting the parks!

A lot of the mistakes on this list are things that I did when I would first come to visit the parks. After doing research, getting more familiar with the resort, and a ton of trial-and-error, I found I was doing way more than I needed to! So, below is a list of 10 rookie mistakes to avoid when you visit WDW resort. This list is in no particular order, just a compiled list of things to think about.

  1. Not coming to the parks prepared. A backpack filled with “Disney survival” items will be your best friend during a park day. Including items such as bandaids, deodorant, extra socks, ponchos, a portable phone charger, and ziplock bags will be helpful throughout the day. Be sure, however, to not use a backpack that is too large or too heavy, as it will become a burden!
  2. Not bringing water or snacks. Contraire to popular belief, you are able to bring your own food and drinks into WDW – and I highly suggest it. Everything in Disney is so expensive, it will help in the long run if you cut down on costs by packing a few bottles of water and snacks in your backpack.
  3. Not using Fastpass+ reservations. As I’ve mentioned before in a previous blog post (BEST RIDES FOR FASTPASS+ RESERVATIONS!), utilizing Fastpass+ will cut down on your wait times in the parks and make your day more efficient overall. Be sure to utilize the booking window and book the reservations smart to get the best out of this tool!
  4. Not taking advantage of the My Disney Experience app. This app is definitely a life saver when in the parks. With an account, you can use this app to check wait times on all rides throughout the park, check showtimes for entertainment and spectaculars, utilize a digital park map that will give you directions to a specific location, and so much more. However, it will eat your phone battery if you leave it constantly running in the background, so be sure to close it out after every use!
  5. Not booking dining reservations ahead of time. This was the biggest mistake I made when visiting my first time, and something that I will never do again! For table service restaurants, unless you want to wait over an hour to sit down and eat it is so important to make dining reservations ahead of time. Keep an eye out for a future blog post where I talk about the best table service restaurants in each park 😉
  6. Park hopping. Although this is a fun concept that I have done several times, park hopping in my opinion is not worth paying for or doing. Doing multiple parks in one day takes so many experiences away from what is possible, especially with the now normal crowd levels. In my opinion, choose one park per day and make the most of that experience! It will make your vacation much more enjoyable.
  7. Wearing the wrong shoes. Of course you want to look cute heading to the parks, but give your feet a break! Avoid shoes with no support such as sandals and flip flops, and be sure to not wear brand new shoes. Birkenstocks and running shoes will truly be your best friend. There is no damper on a Disney day than multiple blisters or hurting feet!
  8. Underplanning. This goes along the lines of making Fastpass+ reservations and dining reservations. Be sure to at least have a game plan of which park you plan to visit each day, where and when you’d like to eat, and your can’t miss attractions and experiences.
  9. Overplanning. Opposite of number 8, it is so important to be sure not to over plan. Weather, crowd levels, and other factors can cause plans to veer from what you’d like, so be sure that your entire day isn’t planned and that you are willing to be flexible with your ideas.
  10. Staying in the parks from open to close. This is also something I am guilty of doing many, many times. On a four-day park vacation, we would be in the park from rope drop to close, and were completely drained. Other than the fact that it is a long day in itself, the heat can become unbearable in central Florida and you’ll find yourself walking 15-17 miles at the least. Instead, hit rope drop, stay until lunch time, go back to the resort and relax around the pool or take a nap, then head back before dinner time to enjoy the rest of the day. It really makes all the difference in an enjoyable experience!

So there you have it! My list of top 10 rookie mistakes to avoid when visiting WDW! I hope you enjoyed today’s post. Be sure to like the post, and follow my blog! See ya soon 🙂

BEST TIME TO VISIT WDW?!

BEST TIME TO VISIT WDW?!

Being the Disney nerd I am, I constantly get asked the question [regarding crowd size] “When is the best time to visit Disney World?”. Although I would love to say the Halloween and Christmas seasons due to the festivities, decorations, and vibes, it can be very busy during these times of the year. People are well aware of the large crowd volumes in the parks as a whole, so what is the answer?

I want to first start off with stating that there is no longer a “slow” season in WDW. Crowd levels vary from moderate to extreme, but no matter when you go there will be crowds and there will be 45+ minute waits for beloved attractions. However, going during a time where there is a moderate crowd level will make your trip much more enjoyable. Below are the top three best times to avoid extreme crowds in WDW.

  1. The end of January. December into the beginning of January is one of the most busiest seasons for the resort, if not the busiest. With the Christmas and New Years celebrations as well as the Run Disney marathons, crowd levels can be unbearable. However, once the festivities and marathons are over and children are back in school, the end of January marks one of the best times to visit the resort. Not only are the crowds bearable, but the weather is cooler-than-normal for central Florida temperatures.
  2. Middle-End of May. Spring break is over and children are still in school, so this makes a great time to head to WDW. Although not as low of crowd levels as number 1, this is the “calm before the storm” before the summer months. It’s also not during the rain season and not unbearably hot, which makes the weather easy to manage! An added bonus, this is when Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival is in full bloom, which is a fun and beautiful can’t-miss event!
  3. End of September/Beginning of October. Although it can still be very hot and during the rain season, this is another great time to visit and avoid large crowd levels. Students are just starting school and it isn’t too close to Halloween, which makes this the perfect time to visit. What makes this time of the year even better is that Magic Kingdom is decorated for fall and you can still hit Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party if you’re looking for some added fun!

Once again, I would like to point out that none of these three times is a slow season. Unfortunately, there will be crowds and longer wait times for popular attractions. However, these different times of year have wait times and crowd levels that are easier to manage compared to the summer months and the holidays. Below are a few pro tips to get the most out of your vacation even during these moderate times of year!

  • Visit parks during the week days. During the weekends, locals (like myself) often frequent the parks, adding to the crowds. The best times to go are during the week days, where children are in school and parents/adults are working.
  • Use Fastpass+ Reservations. It is always nice when you don’t have to wait an hour or more to ride your most favorite attractions. Be sure to use the open window (60 days out with a resort reservation, 30 days out with just tickets) to book your allotted 3 Fastpass+ reservations per day.
  • Expect to wait in lines. If you are going during these times of year, or any time of year, and expect to wait little-or-no time to ride an attraction, meet a character, or even to order food you will be highly disappointed. For literally everything you do on property, you will be waiting in lines. Be prepared for this by downloading fun games to play in line, bringing something to keep the kids busy, or just go in with the understanding that there will be a wait so that your time in WDW isn’t ruined!

I hope these tips help you plan your future WDW adventure! Thanks for reading 🙂 Be sure to like this post, and follow my blog to get updates on new posts. See ya next time!

7 REASONS TO VISIT WDW IN THE FALL

7 REASONS TO VISIT WDW IN THE FALL

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I love the fall season. Although I’m not a fan of pumpkin spice, I love the scents, the decorations, and the HOLIDAYS! No one does fall better, though, than Walt Disney World. That’s why today I am going to give you seven reasons why you should visit WDW during the fall season!

1. The Decorations. Walking down Main Street USA will give you that “fall feeling” even if it is 90+ degrees in central Florida. WDW does such an amazing job lining the roofs of the markets with pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns as well as putting Mickey-inspired pumpkin wreaths on each lamp post and hanging brown, orange, red and white banners all over. These touches really bring a small-town feeling to the park and create the perfect aesthetic for the season!

2. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. I already wrote a long, lengthy post about why MNSSHP is a must-do on your Disney vacation. Dressing up no matter what your age is and going Trick-or-Treating itself is fun, but to add every other aspect WDW does during the party creates a truly magical experience!

3. Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival. Another event that I’ve created a lengthy blog post about, this event (which is free with admission to the park) is engaging no matter your age! I love the idea of trying food dishes and popular drinks from countries around the world. Although it isn’t a “fall” experience, it happens during the fall time, which is reason enough to visit!

4. The Treats. Fall time in the parks inspires chef’s to create endless fall themed treats – sweet and savory! Of course, you can expect your classic pumpkin spiced desserts, but also some fun treats inspired by your favorite Halloween and fall-holiday characters and movies! My favorites every year are the candy and caramel apples!

5. The Crowds. On non-MNSSHP nights as well as weekdays, you can expect the crowds to be lower than normal. This doesn’t mean, necessarily, that the park will be empty with no wait times on favorite attractions, but the wait times will be bearable. Being that fall is when children go back to school, most parents don’t want to pull their young kids out for a week to go on a family vacation. This was always a major deciding factor on when I would plan my WDW vacation!

6. The Weather. Although you can’t expect traditional fall weather in Orlando, it starts to cool down in October and the humidity isn’t as strong. The change in the weather makes it much more easier to do full park days, especially compared to the summer months.

7. Lower-Than-Normal Prices. Since fall isn’t as busy as other months, resort prices are usually a bit lower as well as the price of park tickets! The only time you will see “peak” season prices is the week of Labor Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Other than that, expect to pay quite a bit less than that summer or Christmas vacation you’re looking in to!

So there you have it, 7 reasons why you should visit Walt Disney World Resort during the fall season! We love it here this time of year, and I am confident that you would too.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post 🙂 Leave a comment down below about when you think it’s the best time to visit the resort. Also, be sure to like this post and follow my blog. Have a great week!

TOY STORY LAND: A REVIEW

TOY STORY LAND: A REVIEW

Toy Story Land is a new addition to Hollywood Studios that opened June 30th. My fiancé and I also moved from Ohio to Orlando, Florida on June 30th, and have been lucky to experience it several times this summer!

Toy Story Land is, obviously, based on the Toy Story movie franchise. The story is that Andy has created an amusement park in his back yard for all of his toys, and when you enter the park you “shrink down” to the size of a green army man. Toy Story Land consists of three rides, one quick service restaurant, and two meet-and-greet areas. If you’d like to know my honest opinion about the land itself as well as each experience within it, read below! Also, be sure to hang out until the end of the bog for some pictures of TSL!

Toy Story Land – Size

As a Toy Story fanatic, I was hoping to be immersed into this huge land – which was not the case. In planning, TSL itself was intended to be much larger and have more to it, but for budgetary reasons, a lot was cut. The land size itself is okay for what it is, but I was just hoping for more.

Toy Story Land – Theming 

Unlike how I feel about the size of TSL, the theming of this land is so immersive and perfect for what it is meant to be! Following the story, it really feels as though you’ve stepped into an amusement park put together by a kid. From popsicle stick walls, to benches made of dominoes, to Christmas lights being held up by characters, pencils, and straws. The list could go on and on – the theming related to the story is just incredible. The best time to see it, however, is at night when it’s lit up!

Slinky Dog Dash

After budgetary cuts to the roller coaster, making it shorter, and initially being compared to Barnstormer, I had very low expectations for this attraction. However, it is now one of my favorite rides in WDW! Although it is a “family” coaster, it doesn’t go too slowly or too fast, which makes it just fun and enjoyable for children of all ages. What I love about the ride is that it still isn’t too short (which I was nervous about!), and that it has two launches. Definitely a must-do attraction in Hollywood Studios!

Side note: I rode this coaster for the first time at night during the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular nighttime show and it was magical. If you can time it up just right, I would highly recommend!

Alien Swirling Saucers 

Much like Slinky Dog, I didn’t have high hopes for this attraction. However, I was also pleasantly surprised with this as well! On this attraction, you are in a cart driven by an alien from Pizza Planet while you spin around and around.  Much like Mad Hatters Tea Party in MK, the ride just makes you happy – I found myself and Dee laughing the entire ride. If the line is under 20 minutes, I would highly recommend! Like Slinky Dog and the ride itself, the best time to go on this attraction is at night – the lighting and effects make the attraction even more enjoyable!

Toy Story Midway Mania

I’m not really going to go into much detail on this attraction, as it has been a part of Hollywood Studios for several years now and is a fun experience. I think it, obviously, fits very well into the theming of the land and is always a popular attraction in HS.

Andy’s Lunchbox 

The only eatery in TSL, Andy’s Lunchbox is a quick-service outdoor location that offers sandwiches, snacks, and beverages – basically what you’d expect in a lunchbox! The land itself is sponsored by Bellvita cheese, and that sponsorship shows A LOT in this area – there is a huge Bellvita cheese wheel at the top of the ordering window, and some of the chairs are made of the Bellvita casings. The sandwiches itself are unique and pleasing, and this location offer both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The only thing that is disappointing is that there is a very small sitting area, which is almost always full, and no indoor seating space.

Character Meet and Greets 

There are two areas you can meet characters in TSL: by the entrance of Toy Story Midway Mania, and near the entrance of the land itself. You can meet Woody near the entrance, while Buzz and Jesse are together near Midway Mania. The character meet and greets are as you’d expect for WDW, but I miss the air conditioned and themed queue with the designated photo area for Woody and Buzz in Pixar Place!

They’ve also incorporated army men – and women – in TSL to walk around for photo ops, hula hoop competitions, and more. The army men – and women – are a lot more interactive in TSL than they were in Pixar Place, which is a major bonus.

Miscellaneous 

  1. Shade. The major issue that I’ve read on other blog reviews about the land and completely agree with is the lack of shaded areas in TSL. To be more specific – unless you go to where the restrooms are, there is NO shade in TSL. Being that we are in central Florida, I’m not sure how this was overlooked by imagineers. Especially being that all of the queue’s for the attractions, 2 of the 3 attractions themselves, and the quick service location in the ride are all outdoors. The ONLY place to get air conditioning and to get out of the heat is to ride Midway Mania or use the restroom. Hopefully trees, umbrella’s, or some other solution will be added by next summer!
  2. Photo spots. There are so many great photo spots available in TSL! Some crowd favorites are: Woody at the entrance of the park, the popsicle wall, and the alien near Alien Swirling Saucers. With all of the “toys” that were used to create this land, the photo opportunities are endless!
  3. Lack of merchandise spots. Although there is plenty of Toy Story Land merchandise to be found around Hollywood Studios, what this land lacks the most is a shop! There is an outdoor cart that has some merchandise, but I do not feel this is enough for what is supposed to be a popular area. It was rumored that an Al’s Toy Barn was supposed to be in TSL for a merchandise shop before budgetary cuts, and I think this would have been a great addition to this area that is sadly missed! Not only would they probably have sold more TSL merchandise to spur-of-the-moment buyers, it would have been a shaded and air conditioned spot that would have perfectly fit the theme of the land.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I absolutely love this land! Although it is on the smaller side, it truly brings that nostalgic feeling of my childhood back and makes me really feel as though I am in Andy’s back yard. I am disappointed of all that was cut from the land, but I am satisfied with what has still been included. This is a must-do for first time WDW vacation families as well as Toy Story lovers, and I’d highly recommend!

Thanks for reading! If you’ve been to TSL this summer, leave a comment down below letting me know your thoughts! Also, if you enjoyed this blog, be sure to subscribe and like it down below 🙂

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A GUIDE TO EPCOT’S INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL 2018

A GUIDE TO EPCOT’S INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL 2018

This Thursday, August 30th, 2018, one of the best festivals Epcot has to offer begins – Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival! The event will run daily from the 30th to November 12th, offering many special food and beverage options for guests to try as well as a few special events. The festival itself is free with park admission with hundreds of food and beverage options available for guests to sample throughout World Showcase.

As a general overview, the International Food and Wine Festival includes over 30 international booths all around World Showcase themed to different countries including The Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, Greece, Thailand, and more. Each booth will offer about three different snack-sized dishes (usually two savory and one dessert) that are popular in that country as well as at least three different alcoholic beverages.

Prices for the food and beverage items usually range on average between $3 – $8 each. To purchase, each booth will take cash, credit or debit cards, MagicBands, Disney gift cards, and Disney Reward Dollars. The best part about this festival, in my opinion, is that many of the food items can be bought using snack credits if you have a Disney Dining Plan! For me, this is a big thing because when we have the dining plan, we normally don’t use even half of our snack credits (you’re allotted 2 a day, per person), so this is a great perk! However, if you are an Annual Passholder like myself, don’t expect to use your Passholder discount as they do not accept them at the booths.

This event is a very popular event both for tourists and local residents of the parks. There are many adults and older couples that take yearly vacations to the resort specifically for this event, and local residents attend the event regularly. Because of it’s popularity, Disney seems to run it longer and longer every year (but no one is complaining!). Don’t expect light crowds, but do expect tons of fun – and to be hooked!

Now that we’ve discussed the basic information of the festival, let’s dive deeper into the fun and unique offerings of the event! If I were to list every event offered, this blog would be never ending. However, below I am going to list some of the most popular and interesting events that I feel are worth highlighting!

Party for the Senses  

Party for the Senses is probably the most popular event during the festival, loved by many regulars as well as new guests. This is a pre-reserved and pre-paid experience where a special host will lead festivities for guests catered around eating, drinking, and fun. During the event, you will be offered several favorite dishes and beverages from the festival, and will be entertained by a live performer. The event is pretty pricey (starting at $229!), and is only offered on select weekend nights during the festival, but it is something worth doing if you’d like to try multiple offerings from the FAW!

Sunday Brunch with the Chef 

On nine select days during the festival, guests can purchase tickets for a two-hour brunch event with a special guest celebrity chef! Some well known chefs that will be hosting brunches include Alex Gaurnaschelli and Chef Art Smith. The brunch will offer a breakfast buffet, a wine toast, a Q&A with the celebrity chef, and a photo op! This event is also pricy at $129 a person, but is something well worth doing if there’s a celebrity chef on the list you’d love to see!

Make It, Mix It, Celebrate It Hands-On Workshops 

Offered every Wednesday and Thursday during the festival, guests can reserve a space in this event to learn various culinary tips and tricks from well known and experienced chefs. Some of the classes may teach you how to bake a cake or make unique cocktails! The event costs $39 a person, but is something that is well worth doing if you’d like to impress your friends and family back home!

Eat to the Beat Concert Series

Eat to the Beat is an event that most festival goers are most excited for every year! You can reserve your spot at this event by making a dining reservation at various restaurants around the World Showcase on the nights that it is being offered. Itself, Eat to the Beat is a concert series with well known musical acts on select nights including performances by Tiffany, 98 Degrees, Plain White Tee’s, and more!

Disney Du Jour Dance Party 

A character dance party for kids and adults alike, this experience is a new kid-friendly offering to the festival. Held on weekend nights, guests can join several characters ranging from Remmy (Ratatouille), Lilo and Stitch, Chip and Dale, or more friends to engage in interactive dances and activities. There will also be special appearances by Radio Disney stars! What’s best about this event is that it is free for all guests with park admission.

Remmy’s Hide and Squeek 

Another kid-friendly (and free) option for the festival, guests can go on a scavenger hunt to find the 15 Remmy statues hidden around World Showcase. Ask a cast member in the park for a Hide and Squeek guide map and be on your way!

Junior Chef Kitchen 

Something that I am most excited about and will be attending even though I am 25 years old is the Junior Chef Kitchen offering! The event is free, however guests must register for the event the day-of at the festival center. Once the event begins, junior chefs will be guided through creating some unique dishes including candy sushi! The event will be offered every Sunday with limited availability.

For a detailed guide including the 30+ booth with menu options as well as details about the other festival offerings, go check out the Food and Wine guide on WDW Info, or at this link: http://www.wdwinfo.com/disney-world/epcot/food-wine-festival.htm.

For myself, I know that I am very excited for this festival to begin! This, along with MNNSHP, is a must-do event during the Fall season. Every year, I am blown away by each food option or beverage that I try, and look forward to trying some new things this year!

Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments below what you’re most excited for during the International Food and Wine Festival. Also, be sure to subscribe to my blog so you’re notified whenever I post! 🙂

MICKEY’S NOT-SO-SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY HAS BEGUN!!

MICKEY’S NOT-SO-SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY HAS BEGUN!!

It’s the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year – the holidays are near! Unlike most people, I consider “the holidays” and “the most wonderful time of the year” to start when Halloween season begins! Coming from Ohio, I just love everything about the fall season – the leaves, the weather, the clothing, the scents, the decorations, the traditions, and most importantly, Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Disney just started their hard ticketed Halloween celebration, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and people have mixed views on its early start. Some thing it’s waaaay too early to decorate and celebrate the fall holiday, while others, like myself, think it wasn’t soon enough! Regardless of your viewpoint, the party started yesterday (Friday, August 17) and there is plenty of fun to be had! Let’s talk about all of the party offerings this year. **This is going to be a long one, so buckle up!

First, as I mentioned above, this is a hard ticketed event. That means that on top of your annual pass or your normal park ticket, you must purchase a party ticket specifically for the night you choose to go. The party is select nights between August 17th through October 31, and tickets start at $70 a person. Although the party doesn’t start until 7:00 p.m., with your hard ticket you are able to enter the park at 4:00 p.m. and eat dinner, walk around, or go on a few attractions before the fun begins!

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party has a lot of unique offerings for guests including special fireworks, trick-or-treating, a special parade, and fun shows on the castles stage. The party also includes treats unique to the party as well as special character meet-and-greets! Below, I will list and briefly talk about the unique offerings.

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Mickey’s Boo to You Halloween Parade

With two shows a night, this themed parade features haunted floats, your favorite characters dressed up in fun costumes, and well known villains! A highlight of the parade, in my opinion, is the Haunted Mansion float with the famous Hitchhiking Ghosts aboard!

Pro tip: Watch the later parade as it is less crowded, and more special to see with the floats and characters lit up in the dark night! Sets the tone perfectly for the spooky party.

Happy Hallowishes Fireworks

Although every Magic Kingdom fireworks show is a can’t-miss show, this is the best one of the year in my opinion! Join the ghosts from the Haunted Mansion to watch the castle light up the night highlighting Disney villains.

Pro tip: Try to find a spot between Casey’s Corner and the statue of Mickey and Walt. A spot too close to the castle or too far up Main Street will limit your view!

Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular 

My all time favorite event of the entire night because who just doesn’t love Hocus Pocus? Shown three times a night, watch The Sanderson Sisters take the castle stage to return to the world and take over the kindgdom on this hallow celebration. Joined by characters such as Oogie Boogie and Malificent, the sisters put on a show which includes singing songs from the movie!

Pro-tip: Unlike the fireworks, try to get a spot for this show closer to the stage – this way, you’ll be able to see and appreciate all of the little details!

Cadaver Dans 

A team of themed Dapper Dans can be found in Frontierland preforming special songs and shows throughout the night. At five different times during the party, you can catch the Dan’s performing well-known songs such as Cruella Devil, Grim Grinning Ghosts, and more!

Unique Character Meet and Greets

Ever wished to meet your favorite villains, or the characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas? This party is your chance! With over 30 unique meet and greet options, you can find characters such as Jack and Sally, Lots’-o-Huggin’ Bear, Cruella DeVil, Moana, and more!

Pro-tip: Most of the character meet and greet options during the party are those that normally aren’t in the park, so if they have your favorite character be sure to find where they are stationed!

Special Attraction Transformations

A first for Disney World’s Halloween celebrations, three attractions are being transformed for party nights. Space Mountain will include a new spooky soundtrack with special effects; The Mad Tea Party is filled with new lights and effects that can make your costume light up and dance while riding; and Pirates of the Carribean will have a live character in the attraction for a little added fun!

Pro-tip: If you want to experience these attractions with the special effects for the party, ride them after the party starts (so, not between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.).

Trick-or-Treating 

No matter your age, be sure to hit a few of the Trick or Treating stations around the park! During the check-in process for the event, you will be given a bag to use for all of the candy you collect – and it will be a lot! The spots where the Trick or Treat stations are can be found on the event map.

Pro-tip: At check-in, let the cast member know if you have any allergies. They will give you a special allergy friendly trick-or-treat bag, and this will let the stations know of your allergies as well! This way, you’ll be able to get treats that you can actually eat and enjoy.

One-of-a-Kind Treats

Disney does an amazing job at creating themed treats for their hard ticketed events, and the Halloween party doesn’t fall short! With dozens of items to choose from, you’ll be sure to find something you must try! A few of my favorites this year include:

  • Malificent Ice Cream: This spooky treat is made up of lime soft-serve ice cream in a black waffle cone, topped with chocolate Malificent horns and sprinkles!
  • Mickey’s Halloween Cinnamon Roll: A Mickey-shaped cinnamon roll topped with icing and a chocolate spider-web!
  • Haunted Mansion Ghost Dessert: A cream puff shaped like the Doom Buggy from the ride which includes spooky purple cream and a photo of the Hitchhiking Ghosts made of chocolate!

Party Merchandise

If you are a shopper like me, you will fall in love with all of the merchandise for the party! From unique popcorn buckets to limited-edition MagicBands and pins, to clothing and spooky ears, there is so much to choose from! The best part is – most of the items are available for purchase throughout the entirety of the season, not just on party nights! A few of my favorites include:

  • A Hocus Pocus inspired Spirit Jersey
  • Limited-edition Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party MagicBand (with only 4,000 made!)
  • Oogie Boogie popcorn bucket
  • Haunted Mansion inspired Minnie ears.

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Costume’s

Now that we have discussed the unique offerings, lets discuss costumes! Whether you want to go full out, or just wear Halloween-inspired clothing, be sure to get in the spirit and dress up for the occasion! Below are a few pro-tips when considering a costume for the event:

  1. Before becoming set on a costume, be sure to check out Disney’s costume guidelines. In a nutshell, these guidelines state that you cannot wear masks, you cannot bring weapons of any kind, the costume cannot be inappropriate and must be family friendly, and an adult may not impersonate a character in their costume (by taking photo’s with guests, etc.). The entirety of these guidelines can be found on Disney’s website.
  2. Dress light! Especially if you are attending the party in August or September, it will still be very hot and humid in Orlando. Be sure that your costume is breathable, isn’t heavy, and is comfortable for you to walk around in for a few hours.
  3. Be unique when considering your costumes! Everyone is dressed up, and it’s more fun when you create something that not everyone is going as that year.

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I could go on and on about this party, but I think I’m going to stop it here. I plan on attending the event in September and October, so be on the lookout for a full review/memory blog about the event around then! I know I’m very excited that it is here, and I can’t wait to dress up and head to the event!

Thanks for reading! Below are some photo’s of the event that I have attended the past two years! Leave a comment down below letting me know if you think the party is starting too early, or if it hasn’t started early enough! Be sure to subscribe and like this blog as well! 🙂