Hotel Room Hacks: Ways to Make the Most of the Supplies in Your Walt Disney World Hotel Room

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A while back, I wrote a post which listed all the things that you can expect to find in your Walt Disney World hotel room. Most of the items on the list seem pretty straightforward. I mean, an ice bucket is just an ice bucket, right?

Wrong.

In addition to being a container for conveying frozen water, your ice bucket can do double duty as a corral for your daughter’s hair supplies, a bowl for your microwave popcorn, or place to warm your baby’s bottle. Here are some hacks you can use to make the items found in your hotel room do double duty when you’re on your Disney vacation.

SHAMPOO

Your hotel toiletries can be used for many things other than getting clean.

  • Meant to: Keep your hair clean.
  • Can also be used:
    • As a gentle detergent to rinse the chlorine out of your swimsuit.
    • As a “stain stick.” Rub a little into a clothing stain. This will delay the stain setting until you can actually wash the garment.
    • As a bubble bath for cleaning kiddos. Pour a slow stream of shampoo into the running tub water and watch the bubbles appear.
    • As a “window cleaner” for your kids’ swim goggles.
    • Remember: If you’re not staying on points at a DVC villa, you can get as much free extra shampoo as you need just by placing a quick call to housekeeping.

    CONDITIONER

    • Meant to: Keep your hair shiny and tangle free.
    • Can also be used:
      • As a shaving cream. Ladies, this works particularly well shaving your legs in the shower.
      • As a makeup remover for adults. Dab some on a tissue and take off your mascara.
      • As a makeup remover for kids. If your kids have had face painting or temporary tattoos, conditioner will help remove the gunk.
      • As entertainment for kids. Plop the kiddos in the tub and let them “paint” on the tile with a bit of conditioner. You’ll obviously need to adhere to the rules of water safety, but this my buy you a quiet moment to check your phone for messages.
      • To cool and soothe a mild sunburn.
    • Remember: If you’re not staying on points at a DVC villa, you can get as much free extra conditioner as you need just by placing a quick call to housekeeping.

    ICE BUCKET

    Your drinking glasses, ice bucket, and ice bucket liner have a multitude of alternate uses.

    • Meant to: Be a vehicle to bring ice from a machine in the hall to your room.
    • Can also be used:
      • As a bowl for snacks. Your Chip & Dale pretzels will be easier to share if they’re not in an awkward plastic bag.
      • As a corral for loose essentials such as your wallet, keys, phone, tickets. Keep them all in one place for easy location.
      • As a corral for loose kid paraphrenalia such as Squinkies, hair ties, pressed pennies, etc.
      • As a warmer for baby’s bottle. Fill with hot water and place the bottle inside until the chill is gone.
    • Remember: If you’re using the bucket for anything except ice, use the provided plastic liner to keep the bucket clean for future guests.

    PLASTIC ICE BUCKET LINER

    • Meant to: Keep your ice bucket clean and santiary.
    • Can also be used:
      • As an emergency diaper disposal bag.
      • To keep wet swimsuits contained for the flight home.
      • To keep potentially wet souveniers (bubbles, snow globes) safe for the trip home.
      • To bring snacks into the parks with you.
    • Remember: You can get more of these by placing a quick call to housekeeping.

    HAIR DRYER

    A hair dryer can dry more than just hair.

    • Meant to: Dry your hair.
    • Can also be used:
      • Dry damp swimsuits and other items before packing.
      • Warm a sticker or price tag to get it off a souvenir.
      • Get steam off the bathroom mirror.
      • Dry nail polish. My daughters like to paint their nails on vacation, but are often too impatient for them to dry.
      • Dry your shoes if you’ve been caught in one of the those frequent Florida showers.

    PLASTIC LAUNDRY BAG

    • Can also be used:
      • As a laundry bag for the dirty duds you create on vacation. Just pop the full bag in your suitcase for the trip home.
      • As a bag to transport your laundry to the in-house laundromat to do yourself.
      • To keep wet items contained for the trip home.
      • To transport items like googles and coverups to the hotel pool.
      • To keep a change of clothing safe in your diaper bag.
      • To protect your camera or other valuables on a water-based park attraction.
    • Remember: You can get more of these by placing a quick call to housekeeping.

    IRON

    • Meant to: Press your clothing into tiptop shape.
    • Can also be used:
      • To warm up a child’s PJs to make him cozy for the night.
      • As a weight for flattening crumpled receipts, maps, or other small paperwork.
      • To help set the art on a custom made T-shirt.
    • Remember: We do NOT recommend using your iron as a method of cooking or warming food. It’s a fire hazard and not very nice for future guests who may use the appliance on fine clothing.

    IRONING BOARD

    Your iron, ironing board, and coat hangers have many uses.

    • Meant to: Provide a level surface for ironing your clothing.
    • Can also be used:
      • As a snack table. Have a child sit on the end of the bed and place the iron board at low height in front of them. No more crumbs in the bed while the kids watch TV.
      • As an extra desk for papers/computers/etc. while the room’s table is being used for dining.
      • As a staging area for clothing. It’s a safe place to lay out each family member’s clothing for the next day.
      • As an extra bedside table. This can be particularly helpful if someone is stuck in the room all day due to illness.
    • Remember: If you’re using the board for something potentially messy, like food, cover the board with a towel first to keep it clean for future guests.

    SAFE

    • Meant to: Provide a secure spot for valuables and travel documents.
    • Can also be used:
      • As a memory aid. Place something you won’t can’t forget in the safe (car keys, your left shoe) along with the valuables. This way you won’t inadvertently leave your computer behind.
      • As a safe spot for a child’s lovey. Place favorite stuffed animals in the safe to make sure they’re not accidentally sent to the wash by housekeeping.
      • As a disciplinary device. Store your child’s cell phone in the safe to make sure he can’t use it during meals, while being reprimanded, etc.
      • Store any potentially hazardous medications or medical devices.

    PILLOWS

    Extra pillows and your room safe and have many uses as well.

    • Meant to: Cradle your head for slumber.
    • Can also be used:
      • To separate sleeping siblings. We use a row of pillows to divide my daughter who sleeps Gangnam Style from her peaceful twin sister.
      • As a light blocker. Put extra pillows by the door, in front of the clock, or in front of a gap in the window curtains to keep out extraneous light.
      • As a playtime device for the kiddos. Let them have a pillow fight on vacation. Best memory ever.
      • As reassurance for a new bed sleeper. If your youngster is new to sleeping on a big bed, place several pillows on the floor next to him as reassurance that even if he falls, he’ll be safe.
    • Remember: If you need extras, call housekeeping.

    TOWELS

    • Meant to: Dry your body after bathing.
    • Can also be used:
      • As a light blocker.
      • Rolled up, as a kid-sized pillow.
      • As a baby blanket.
      • As a “tablecloth” for a child having a snack.
      • As an insulator for hot curling irons, coffee pots, etc. (Be careful.)
    • Remember: Check out our detailed information about the towel situation at Walt Disney World.

    CLOCK RADIO

    Use your clock radio for many purposes.

    • Meant to: Wake you up for rope drop.
    • Can also be used:
      • As an extra outlet. If you’re using your phone as your alarm, unplug the in-room clock radio for extra charging capability.
      • As a curfew monitor for teens. If your teens are out on their own in the evening, but you want to go to sleep, set the alarm for their curfew time. If they’re not back in the room to turn off the alarm at the appointed time, then you’re awakened to start hunting for them.
      • As a night light. Move the clock to a different part of the room where you need just a tiny bit of light for safety or reassurance.
    • Remember: If you unplug the clock, it’s only polite to plug it back in and reset it to the proper time for the next guest.

    DRINKING CUP

    • Meant to: Convey beverage to mouth.
    • Can also be used:
      • To keep family toiletries separated. Each person gets a cup to hold their toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.
      • As a baby bath rising aid. (Plastic cups only please.)
      • As a corral for loose change and other small items.
      • As a container for crayons, pens, and other child art and homework supplies.
      • As an amplifier for your iPhone or other music player. Place the phone in an EMPTY glass and instantly boost the volume. (But please be aware of other guests.)

    COFFEE MAKER

    Your in-room coffee service has many items which can be repurposed.

    • Meant to: Wake you up before you go-go.
    • Can also be used:
      • To make a warm water bath for a baby’s bottle (see ice bucket above).
      • To heat water for oatmeal, instant soup or other edibles.
      • Heat heater for a warm compress to soothe theme park injuries such a blisters or sprains.
    • Remember: The coffee service comes with a packet of napkins, creamer and sugar. Use the sugar to sprinkle on Junior’s cereal or the napkins for any general clean up.

    REFRIGERATOR

    • Meant to: Chill your Diet Coke and juice boxes.
    • Can also be used:
      • To chill damp washcloths; great for wiping down and cooling off after a hot day in the parks.
      • As a white noise machine. Turn up the temperature on the machine and activate the hum.
      • To hide things from the kiddos. Does Junior need his Hot Wheels taken away for throwing a tantrum? Place them in the fridge while he’s not looking.
      • To keep food “souvenirs” fresher longer.

    CLOTHES HANGERS

    • Meant to: Keep your button downs fresh.
    • Can also be used:
      • As extra drying space for damp garments. .
      • Clip-style (skirt) hangers can keep curtains closed.
      • Clip-style (skirt) hangers can keep artwork, such as a caricature of your child, fresh and away from sticky hands.
      • To steam out slightly rumpled clothing. Hang your shirt/dress/etc. on a hanger and place it on the shower rod, away from the water. Run a hot shower for a few minutes to loosen the wrinkles.
    • Remember: Call down to housekeeping if you need more.

    Fellow resort residents, have you used any of these hacks? Do you have other favorite hotel room tips and tricks? Let us know in the comments below.

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Posted on January 16, 2013

44 Responses to “Hotel Room Hacks: Ways to Make the Most of the Supplies in Your Walt Disney World Hotel Room”

  • You are like the MacGyver of vacationing! Great article, with lots of really useful information!

  • Fun article! Little grossed out by the thought of using the ice bucket for some suggested alternative uses if it has been used by prior guests for other suggested alternative uses, but then I saw your caveat. ;-) But with the snacks using the liner may defeat the purpose of not eating them out of an “awkward plastic bag.” In any event, an excellent MacGyver list.

    • Me too, right after we check in, the hubby takes the boys to Harmony Barber Shop. And I prepare to tackle every nasty germ that glows.
      I can find in those room. The first things that comes out the bags, my UV black light and Lysol.

  • by Lucy Simpson-Brooks on January 16, 2013, at 3:47 pm EDT

    I can vouch for using the conditioner as shaving cream, this came in very handy the morning of my Disney wedding last year! What a day to run out of shaving cream!

  • Please, please edit your tip to state what should be obvious: While letting the kids fingerprint with conditioner do NOT leave the bathroom while they are in the tub and you’re checking the phone for messages. Too many times a year, a mom or dad “just looked away for a minute”.

    • I did mention water safety. Yes, of course you should be vigilant and never leave a child unattended. My kids are older now, but there were many times during the preschool years what I sat on the floor of the bathroom and checked messages or did a crossword while they played in the tub for an hour. I wouldn’t do that with a baby, but if you don’t leave the room, you can often look away from a four year old for a sec. This is a situation where the child’s age comes into play a lot. But yes, thank you for the reminder.

      • It does not take much water for one to drown AND most times there is no struggle because kids are tired. This can be applied to a full day at Disney – just a plug from me :)

    • I think maybe we tend to imagine the age of the kids we have. I pictures kids 7-9 doing this and they are fine in the tub with you in the next room, don’t you think?

  • Great article. How about rolling up bath towels to block cold air from coming in under door in moderates in winter or tipping recycle bin over to be a night stand for other side of bed. I bet there are hundreds of things people do with things in their rooms.

  • There are *way* more uses for a towel than that. Take it from me; I’m a hoopy frood who really knows where her towel is. ;)

    • 42! And at Disney? Never without my towel or cool cloth. They can prevent sunburn, dry off wet feet and hair, clean up a spill, go under a shoulder strap, wipe off cement or seats or provide a rear end pad for parades…the list goes on and on. You’ll never have anything more useful than a towel.

    • During warmer months, leave a towel over the steering wheel of your car and it will keep it from overheating, then you can sit on the towel to keep the seat from burning your rear-end.

  • A friend of mine heated up leftover lasagna in the coffee maker. He and his wife were stuck at Port Orleans during a storm (either a hurricane or tropical storm) and couldn’t leave the room, so that was their big meal for the day.

    • I wouldn’t normally recommend that (clean up sounds icky), but if you’re in hurricane survival mode, then I suppose anything goes.

  • I miss the old drip coffeemakers. They were incredibly useful! It’s not using the stuff in the room, but I travel a lot and find if I close the curtains in my hotel room I really need a night light. If I plug in my MiFi in a bathroom outlet, it emits a constant green light that works really well, without being too bright to sleep.

    I also use the “bottom drawer” of the dresser as a dirty clothes hamper.

    Really good tip to lock something you’ll notice missing in the safe!

    • Some of the resorts still have drip coffeemakers. I’ve stayed in four different WDW hotel rooms in the last five weeks and three of them had drip pots.

      • Erin, do you happen to know if PO-Riverside has the old four-cup drip coffee makers or the new Cuisinart “pod” coffee makers?

        Thank you so much! I really enjoy your blog posts!

        • My understanding is that as of mid-2012, the old POR coffee makers with pots were replaced with the single-serve pod-style coffee makers.

  • Erin — I just love your articles!!! They are so practical! Maybe because we are both Moms, I always find something useful in everything you write!

    Here’s a tip. Never use a microwave as a sock dryer. My husband was traveling for work, and forgot an extra pair of dark socks. (They were the sort of slickery, men’s dress socks.) He washed them in the sink and dried them in the microwave. The end result was a smoke-filled room and a small pile of some melted petroleum-looking gunk that was once a sock in the bottom of the microwave. He said the smell was toxic! The alarm went off and the hotel people came running up. Very embarrassing, but our kids thought it was hysterical!

  • As I read this blog I had fond flash back memories of Al Jaffee’s articles in Mad Magazine years ago. Priceless and some made me giggle!!

  • How could you not mention building a fort?

  • Erin – I always enjoy your posts and this is another great article. I love all the tips and what a creative topic! ~ Barrie

  • Great ideas – we have used many of these. We always use a glass to hold toothbrushes & paste, and we use the little tray they put the shampoo on for pennies, trinkets, etc. The ironing board also works for setting out outfits the night before so those sleepy kids can get dressed and out the door without digging through suitcases or drawers (or so the first person up can get dressed and go get coffee for the rest of us without turning on all the lights!).

  • I thought my wife was a genius when we were trying to figure out how to heat the babies bottle and she came up with coffee maker. Mom to the rescue, I would have been walking all over Caribbean Beach every four hours.

  • no i have found it, i have link back to your site thank you

  • Great ideas! Some that I have not thought of! I too have to clean everything before “moving in”. Thanks!

  • As a DVC member, while your toiletries may not be restocked every day, if you find that you have run out of shampoo, just ask one of the Mousekeeping staff and they will be happy to give you another bottle or two!

    • I am also a DVC member. Technically, if you’re staying on DVC points, they’re supposed to charge you for extra shampoo as part of a “trash and towel” package. You may have had particularly good luck during your stays, DVC users should know that there is a potential fee if you ask for additional toiletries. All others can get as much as they need.

  • Aw, this was a very good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to generate a really good article… but what can I say…
    I put things off a lot and don’t manage to get anything done.

  • Very good info. Lucky me I ran across your blog
    by chance (stumbleupon). I’ve book-marked it for later!

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