Transportation

An Introvert’s Guide to Disney World

by on March 15, 2015

I’m a Disney theme park devotee; I love the parks’ art and architecture, the attention to detail, the zippy rides, and the gently popcorn-scented air. I’m also a hard core introvert. I enjoy time with my family and close friends, but speaking with strangers or spending extended periods in large groups leaves me emotionally drained. To recover, I require personal space and quiet time, and lots of it.

Disney Parks fan and introvert can be challenging traits to reconcile. And honestly, I sometimes get the feeling that Walt Disney World is the epicenter of everything I am not. Disney is loud and relentless. With its confluence of uber-friendly cast members, crowds, boisterous dance parties, and world-as-a-show ethos, the entire place practically screams EXTROVERTS ONLY.

Even Christmas can be manageable for an introvert, IF you arrive at the parks early.

Even Christmas can be manageable for an introvert, IF you arrive at the parks early.

But as a veteran of many dozens of trips to the Disney Parks, I’m here to promise you that an introvert can survive, and even thrive, in the midst of the madness. Here are some steps you can take to help make Walt Disney World a manageable experience for an introvert.

Choose a low crowd time of the year to visit.

I have extrovert friends who love WDW on New Year’s Eve. They get excited seeing tens of thousands of people all in one place. You never know who you’ll meet! But for me, one of the quickest paths to system overload is crushing crowds. Being in the Magic Kingdom on New Year’s Eve might possibly make my head explode.

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Disney World Planning Challenges: Is Packing Carry-On Only Right for You?

by on March 4, 2015

downtowndisney_luggage

Don’t let packing get you down: a good plan to pack carry-on only can lessen the stress

Establishing a countdown, deciding which parks to visit on which days, planning advanced dining and FastPass+ reservations—for me, all of these are part of the joy of anticipating a Walt Disney World vacation. Even so, there is one aspect of planning that can feel like a major obstacle between me and vacation, one thing that is no fun whatsoever when I’m preparing for a Disney World vacation, and that thing is packing for our flight to the World.

Although I know that packing will probably always be my least favorite part of getting ready for vacation, over multiple trips to Disney World, I have found some ways to make it a little less painful. One of these strategies is to pack carry-on only whenever possible. Packing carry-on only not only cuts down on the amount of “brain drain” I seem to experience while packing but also on the amount of time I spend doing it.

Some Factors to Consider

Your Traveling Party. A major factor to consider affecting your ability to pack carry-on is your traveling party. Packing carry-on only became much more possible when my kids were past the baby and toddler stage. Let’s face it, just getting to Disney World with the paraphernalia needed for young kids is a major accomplishment. But now that our traveling party consists of either adults and older children or adults only, we put everyone to work while traveling carry-on, with each person responsible for a roll aboard bag and a personal item (generally a backpack).

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A Tale of Two Runners and runDisney

by on February 15, 2015

To the shock and utter amazement of those that know me well (and even myself), I am contemplating signing up for a runDisney event in 2016. I have scoured every inch of the runDisney website and read many other people’s blogs about their experiences. However, I had concerns about what hotel was the right one to stay at for these events, so I asked two previous runDisney racers: Dave Russ, a casual runner who mainly does 5ks to support local causes, and Jordan Viebranz, a more seasoned runner who loves sharing his experiences and motivating others to participate.

rundisney_logo

What runDisney event(s) have you participated in?

Dave: I did the Tower of Terror 10 miler in 2014.

Jordan: I participated in the Goofy Challenge this year. Last year (2014) I participated in the 10k and the full marathon.

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Alex’s Top 10 Air Travel Tips for Kids Travelling With Their Parents

by on February 10, 2015

Yoo Hoo!  So I do not know if you people realise but it is definitely quite a big thing picking out your next blog post topic, especially when you are “international” and can’t just pop to the parks for some quick research without missing quite a few days of school. I do not think I would mind as much as my teachers…

By Alex Duncan

The view from the air over London on our way to Florida

I had my lightbulb moment on the train coming home from school. I was sitting with a friend who usually gets the bus, not the train, home. We were gossiping like a pair of average thirteen year old girls (yes, I am now a teenager, whoop) and she said to me, “to be honest, you have travelled by train so many times now that you could probably go to Disneyland Paris all by yourself.”

By Craig Duncan

Plane Selfie! Ready for the flight – tips all adhered too.

This made me realise that I am quite an experienced traveller now and an expert on aeroplanes (airplanes) to and from Florida. Why would I want to go to Disneyland Paris when I have the option of Walt Disney World? Where instead of adding layers of clothing I can wear shorts and flip-flops. So I’ve decided, thanks to this deep inspiration, that I should write a blog post highlighting and sharing some of my favourite travel tips which will make up an aeroplane survival kit for children travelling with their parents.

Well with that out of the way, let’s get on with my tips!

Survival Kit with Top Tips

1) Headphones: I know that this seems silly but I find the airline provided headphones uncomfortable and useless on the older planes.  The newer Airbus A380’s (which sadly do not fly from London to Orlando) are so much quieter that any headphones are fine.  Good headphones can also double up as a sleeping method on any flight.  I always find it easier to go to sleep listening to Taylor Swift (please feel free to substitute for your favourite artist or band), or you can casually just have a jamming session because you feel like it. Alternatively, if you are lucky enough to own noise-cancelling headphones (wish list) these are great as you can do all these things and have a bit of peace and quiet too.

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Where Can You Walk at Disney World?

by on February 4, 2015

I grew up in Maine, where the punchline to a popular joke was “You Can’t Get There From Here.” At Disney World, you can always get there, but you usually can’t get there from here if you’re walking.

Yes, I know, when you’re at Walt Disney World, you’ll be doing nothing but walking. Many folks have worn pedometers during their Disney vacations and they inevitably learn that walking 5, 7, 10 or more miles per day at Disney World is the norm rather than the exception. Repeat Disney guests understand that nearly all their walking will be done within their resort or within the theme parks; it’s nearly a mile to walk around the World Showcase at Epcot. However, new Disney visitors may be confused that walking between theme parks or between resorts is often not possible. “But the Grand Floridian is right next to the Magic Kingdom, of course I can walk there.” Um, no.

The most walking options occur in the Epcot resorts area.

The most walking options occur in the Epcot resorts area.

Most of the time, you won’t be walking from park to park or from resort to resort, because you can’t. Even if you had the inclination and energy to hoof it, there are few sidewalks or safe paths to travel. For example, the Wilderness Lodge and the Polynesian Resort are about 3/4 of a mile apart as the crow flies. Most healthy adults could walk this in 15 minutes or less. But while the distance is not odious, there are no safe walking paths, making the trip all but impossible on foot, particularly in the dark. Instead, if you want to go from the Wilderness Lodge to the Poly, you’ll have to drive or take a cab or, if you want to use Disney’s free transportation system, you’ll end up taking a boat to the Magic Kingdom or the Contemporary Resort and then transferring to the monorail for a ride to the Poly. What could be a quick trip to a nearby hotel for a celebratory lapu lapu, ends up being an annoying slog.

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Using an Electric Scooter (ECV) at Walt Disney World

by on January 22, 2015

Renting a scooter can help your senior keep up.

Your chariot awaits!

My mom, Terri, has two autoimmune diseases: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Rhematoid Arthritis (RA). Because of this, walking for long periods of time (especially in the hot sun) causes her pain, dizziness and exhaustion. We have visited Walt Disney World many times and each time, she did her best to explore the parks on foot. However, as her diseases progressed, walking became more and more difficult for her. She tried to walk slower and take more breaks, but we could still see the pain in her eyes. My mom is a selfless and caring person, so she felt guilty. She felt she was holding us back and letting us down. She saw us changing plans to accommodate her and so she started making excuses to stay behind in the room to prevent any inconveniences.

Time for a Change

I noticed her attitude change, and explained that she was neither an inconvenience nor letting us down. I don’t see her as a woman with two diseases. I see her as my loving mother. My family and I love spending time with her and were so sad to see her missing out on the fun. I spoke with my Dad and we approached the subject of an electric scooter, or electric conveyance vehicle (ECV). At first, she declined. She was embarrassed because she thought she would be the only one using one. She thought getting around would be difficult and using Disney transportation would be a hassle.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter

by on January 17, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter. Regular readers of the Saturday Six know how much we enjoy staying onsite at the Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World, and while Disney is challenged to compete with some the amenities that Universal can offer its guests, where it does shine is the overall amount and unique hotels on property. Universal has a total of four onsite hotels (soon to be five with the opening of Sapphire Falls in 2016) while Disney has five value resorts alone, not to mention all the moderate, deluxe, and DVC resorts on property. Today we are going to look at our absolute favorite moderate: Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter.

POFQ_logo

Port Orleans French Quarter.

 

Disney’s Port Orleans is broken up into two sections: French Quarter, and Riverside, the latter of which is the much larger of the two resorts. While Riverside certainly has its fans (in fact we’d probably consider it our extremely close second favorite moderate,) we prefer Port Orleans (POFQ) and here are six reason why, starting with…

# 6 - Sassagoula Float Works and Food Factory

French Quarter doesn’t have a table service restaurant (although Riverside’s Boatwright’s Dining Hall is a short walk away,) but it does have a fantastic counter service with the Sassagoula Float Works. Set up like a mall food court, there are several different stations offering Louisiana-inspired dishes such as Po’Boys, Jambalaya, Gumbo, and Beignets. For lunch you can not go wrong with one of the various Po’Boys (our favorites were the pork and beef versions) along with a side of bean salad or house-made chips. As we wrote about in our review of the Fantasy Fare food truck, Disney makes surprisingly good chips. For dinner you gotta go with the Jambalaya or Pot Roast, and any time of the day is good for an order of beignets. Made fresh-to-order and covered in powdered sugar, these beignets are one of the best treats at WDW.

POFQ_BBQpoboy

Pork Po’Boy with bean salad from Sassagoula Float Works and Food Factory.

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How to Experience an Empty Magic Kingdom

by on January 16, 2015

What do you think of when you think of Disney World? Castles? Princesses? Pirates? I sure do! But just like everyone else, I can also think of less magical things such as crowds, long lines, and wait times. Fortunately, Touring Plans can help cut down those long lines and wait times; but one thing that can’t be done is to remove the throngs of people entirely. That is, until now. Yes, in this post, I will explain how to experience an empty Magic Kingdom before the park opens up to the droves of guests. Read on!

I had the castle to myself!

I had the castle to myself!

The Secret

The Magic Kingdom opens most mornings at 9:00 AM, but the secret is that two park restaurants open even earlier, such as The Crystal Palace and Cinderella’s Royal Table. (Note: Cinderella’s Royal Table is currently closed for refurbishment but is expected to reopen in spring of 2015.) If you are able to book an advance dining reservation before park opening, you will be able to walk through the empty park in order to check-in for your breakfast!

Now, before you get too excited, let me clarify a few things. For one, the shows and attractions at the Magic Kingdom do not open for anyone until the park opens, and many of the surrounding lands are roped off to guests who do have early morning reservations. Still, getting in early was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had at Disney World.

Getting In

When I first heard about this Disney World secret, I immediately booked an advance dining reservation at The Crystal Palace for my upcoming vacation dates. It took some checking and re-checking for several days, but I finally was able to grab a reservation at 8:20 AM on a day when the park opened at 9:00 AM. Score!

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The Walt Disney World Road Trip: Tips, Tricks and What Not to Do

by on January 14, 2015

Photo - Michael Dahlgren

Recently, my family decided to make a last minute trip to Disney World the week of New Year’s. Before everyone faints at the heresy of going during the busiest week of the year, my brother’s school was playing in a bowl game in Tampa, so my family decided to kill two birds with one stone. Quickly putting aside the loud warnings in the back of my head about the massive crowds, I couldn’t turn down a pseudo surprise Disney trip. The resort reservation was all set (we would be staying at a Finding Nemo Suite in Disney’s Art of Animation Resort), and I already had my annual pass, but the flight fares were absolutely insane from Baltimore, which is the closest airport to me. Being a more intelligent person than I, my girlfriend suggested a simple alternative. Why don’t we just drive down? So we did. I hope everyone who is considering the possibility of driving instead of flying finds this useful.

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One-Day/Two-Parks; A Universal Orlando Trip Report

by on December 17, 2014

The gate to the Studios.

The gate to the Studios.

…in which our intrepid couple travels outside the Disney bubble and lives to tell about it.

Step 1 – Transportation from Walt Disney World to Universal and Park Tickets

While planning for a particularly long vacation to Walt Disney World, my husband and I decided to squeeze in a day over at Universal Orlando Resort to try out a one-day / two-park touring plan of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Instantly we were faced with the question, “How do we get there?” We were planning on taking Disney’s Magical Express from the airport and would not have a car while on vacation. Would we dare to use the public transportation and hop a bus? We had seen a harrowing,(although hilarious) YouTube video of a British couple who took this route. It didn’t work out so well for them, and they splurged for a cab ride on the way back. Yes, busing was out of the question. We were on a time limit and didn’t have the three hours it took these poor folks just to get to the park. Well, with rental car and busing out of the question, that left us with a taxi.

We did our homework and priced up the fares using the Mears Transportation website. It didn’t seem too terrible, and this is really what we were leaning towards, until I read in the fine print that even if stuck in traffic, the meter is running. We wanted to be on the roadways during rush hour traffic. This probably was not a good plan either. Well, what to do? Do we just forget about Universal? No! Where there is a will, there is a way. And after more research we discovered that some of the travel agencies that sell tickets also sell transportation packages. Now we’re talking!

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