Posts Tagged ‘packing’

FAQ: What to Wear on A Disney Cruise

by on May 15, 2015

You’ve booked a Disney Cruise Line voyage, yay! One of the first things many guests ask (after “How am I going to pay for this?”) is “What should I wear?” This simple question is a hotly contested topic in some circles. I’m here to talk you through what you need to know.

What should I wear to dinner?

Disney Cruise Line ships each have three main dining rooms (MDRs). You will be assigned to eat at one of the three MDRs every night of your cruise.

One version of semi-formal.

One version of semi-formal.

The default dress code at the MDRs is “Cruise Casual.”

The MDRs may also have any of several possible other dress suggestions depending on the specifics of your sailing. These might include formal attire, semi-formal attire, pirate attire, tropical attire, Pixar attire, Frozen attire, or Star Wars attire. In the main dining rooms, everything other than cruise casual is simply a suggestion and is completely optional. I repeat EVERYTHING OTHER THAN CRUISE CASUAL IS OPTIONAL.

What does cruise casual mean?

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Packing Tips for a Day at Walt Disney World + Video

by on March 26, 2015

Photo - Angela DahlgrenAfter a long day of travel to Walt Disney World, you check into your hotel completely exhausted. All you want to do is plop down on the bed and catch some zzzz’s.

Just as you’re about to close your eyes, you remember – You haven’t packed your backpack for the parks tomorrow!

Not to worry! I’ve provided a list of park essentials to make packing efficient and easy.

Not in a reading mood? Check out my video at the bottom of this post!

The Bare Necessities

Photo - Angela Dahlgren

Top 3: Wallet, Ticket, Phone

  • Park Ticket: Don’t forget that golden ticket at the hotel! Yes, you can use your MagicBand to get into the parks, but it’s nice to have a hard copy if you run into issues at the turnstile.
  • Wallet: License, cash, cards, insurance info, etc.
  • MagicBand: Linking your My Disney Experience account to your MagicBand will give you quick access to your park ticket, room key, FastPass+ and dining reservations as its conveniently located around your wrist. You can even pay with your MagicBand! Since your MB is your room key, there is no back-up key (unless you ask for one at check-in), so make sure it’s with you before you leave!
  • Phone: If you have a smart phone, there are two apps I recommend checking out. The TouringPlans Disney World Lines App helps you plan out your day at the parks with crowd calendars, wait times and customized Touring Plans. The second app is My Disney Experience which, if you have an account, holds all of your reservations, tickets and itineraries.
  • Camera: Disney World is full of endless photo opportunities. Don’t be without a camera!

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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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Planning Tips for Your Disney Cruise

by on January 9, 2015

Disney Cruise Line's Castaway Cay

Dreaming of a Disney Cruise?
Photo – Laurel Stewart

Greetings from chilly North Carolina! The cold was so bad yesterday that it killed my car battery. My reaction (other than to buy a new battery) was to think of all the places I’d rather be than here. Naturally, one of the first ones that came to me was on a Disney Cruise.

I’m lucky enough that at this point, after 13 cruises, I can pack and prepare for a trip in my sleep. And I’ve learned a few things along the way. Everyone knows about preparing your travel documents, like passports and birth certificates, doing your online check-in, and booking your Port Adventures before cruising. But what about all the little things that come with preparing to be on a ship, somewhat isolated from things like unlimited free Internet and Target? This is my list of things I do before cruising to reduce surprises the day before I pack for a Disney Cruise:

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Disney Life Hacks: Five Things I Will Never Forget To Pack Again

by on September 25, 2014

t_logo_fbPacking for your Disney vacation doesn’t have to be a stressful part of your planning, and there are plenty of checklists to help you do it. You’ll usually remember to pack sunscreen, bathing suits, and toothbrushes, but what about the things that you might not have thought to put in your suitcase? Money-savers like ponchos and glow sticks from the discount store or gum (which isn’t sold anywhere on Disney property) are among the things most often suggested by Disney Parks veterans, but I’ve got five more things to pack for Disney World.

Trust me on this – it only takes one experience to learn the hard way! Here are a few of the things you shouldn’t leave your home without:

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Packing It All In: How to Fit a Week of Disney Fun into Two Suitcases (With a Family of Four!)

by on September 5, 2014

Do you remember the carefree days of air travel, when each member of your party would board the aircraft with large pieces of luggage, plus carry-on and personal item? Travelers had so much room in their baggage, they had the luxury of packing for every contingency, as well as all of the comforts of home. Ah, the good ol’ days.

Fast forward to today, where airlines have started charging a la carte for everything from snacks and seat upgrades to baggage. Most airlines are currently charging $25 and up for a checked bag (and some are even charging for carry-on baggage, too). Unless you don’t plan to bring any of your items home with you, those fees are doubled for round-trip. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend that money on Mickey Ice Cream Bars and Vinylmation figurines on my Disney vacation.

So how can you limit the amount of baggage (and fees) for a family of four heading to a 7-night trip to Disney World? I will show step by step how my family managed to pack it all in to two checked bags and four carry-ons.

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Disney Cruise Line Alaska Quick Tips

by on July 23, 2014

Ahoy mateys! I’m back from my first trip to Alaska via Disney Cruise Line. In upcoming posts, new Touring Plans blogger Kristi Fredericks and I will be back with tips on activities, excursions, and pre/post cruise hotel options. But in the meantime, I thought I’d share a few quick tips to whet your whistle, pique your interest, and otherwise get you ready for the frozen fun ahead.

IMG_1580

Vancouver

  • The Disney Wonder port terminal is directly adjacent to Canada Place, a large convention center. Several of the Canada Place coffee shops and snack bars offer free WiFi to their customers. If you’re in need of a last minute Internet fix, grab a cup of coffee with a view of the ship before heading into the terminal where online access can be spotty.
  • A primary attraction at Canada Place is “FlyOver Canada.” This is Soarin’, but with footage of Canadian points of interest rather than shots of California. It ain’t cheap (adults are $19.95, students over age 18 are $17.95, and kids are $14.95, plus tax) for a 10-ish minute ride, but the Disney geek in me felt compelled to compare/contrast the experience to that at Epcot and Disney’s California Adventure. The similarity to Soarin’ was almost shocking; the seating is the same, the lift is the same, even the pre-show safety video is similar. My husband and daughter ended up preferring Soarin’ because the music is better and they like the Smell-O-Vision orange groves in the California version, but I (please don’t take away my WDW annual pass when I say this) think I prefer the Canadian experience. The wind simulation is used to better effect in Canada, the screen is wider/taller in Canada, and most importantly, the film print is totally clean in Canada, so your immersion in the experience is not diluted by specks of dust flying over the countryside.
  • The Granville Island market is a must-do for any Vancouver visitor, but Disney geeks will find special pleasure in knowing that among the displays of fresh salmon, spiced nuts, and exotic fruits, you can find a vendor selling actual real live Dole Whip. Look for a vendor called The Milkman. Enjoy!
Dole Whip in Vancouver

Dole Whip in Vancouver

  • Unlike the somewhat confusing and inefficient town to airport public transportation options in my home town of New York, the Vancouver public subway/rail system is easy to understand, clean, and efficient. If you’re not burdened by copious amounts of luggage, the easiest/fastest/cheapest way to get from the airport to the port is likely public transit. Direct point to point takes about 25 minutes and costs about $7.00, depending on the day of the week.
  • At the Vancouver airport, the international departures area near gates numbered in the 70s and 80s currently features several large display cases with vintage Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Pluto toys dating from the 1930s to present day – think variations on Pez and Happy Meal offerings, but hundreds of them.
  • The Starbucks in the Vancouver airport (and presumably elsewhere in the region) serves an uber-Canadian treat, the Maple Macchiato. It’s like a vanilla macchiato, but with an ample drizzle of maple topping made with “real Canadian Maple Syrup found from the Beauce-Appalanche region of Quebec.” Presumably this is no great shakes for you native Canadians out there, but honestly, this small detail was the thing that made this American most feel like Canada was actually another country.
  • The Vancouver airport will not allow you to check in on site prior to three hours before your trip. Nor, for international flights, will they allow you check in when there are fewer than 60 minutes before your flight. Timing is critical here.

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Trip Planning 101: Packing for Your Walt Disney World Vacation

by on January 22, 2014

You’re going to Walt Disney World! You’ve chosen your travel dates and made your reservations, but what should you bring with you? To help you with this issue, we’ve created a handy downloadable TOURINGPLANS PACKING CHECKLIST listing items you’ll need during your trip.

See the link for the complete checklist.

See the link for the complete checklist.

The checklist includes it all, but the rationale for many of the checklist items is broken down here. Packing for a Walt Disney World vacation involves gathering five types of basic items:

    Clothing

 

    Toiletries

 

    Documents/Money

 

    Electronics

 

    and Miscellaneous.

CLOTHING

My biggest suggestion when assessing your clothing needs is to check the Orlando weather forecast 2-3 days prior to your trip, particularly if you’re traveling at any time other than mid-summer. I have been to Walt Disney World in the winter when temperature lows were in the 20s (F). That means you’ll need jeans, sweaters, jackets, and gloves, not shorts and tank tops. Also winter trips tend to have greater temperature fluctuations. Bring layers that you can take on/off throughout the day.

I’m not a fan of chores while I’m on vacation, so I usually skip doing laundry on my trips, but you should know that coin-operated guest laundry rooms are available at every Walt Disney World resort hotel. This can come in handy if you have an accident-prone child or are trying to take a long trip with only carry-on luggage. If I won’t be doing laundry on my trip, I tend to pack at least one or two extra shirts and changes of underwear and socks for each person in my family. It’s amazing how much better fresh clothes can make you feel after a sweaty day in the parks.

If you’re checking bags, keep one change of clothing in a carry-on in case of delayed or lost luggage. I also recommend bringing clothing in a carry-on for your return flight. Don’t even get me started about the nine hour delay I had at Orlando International with a sick child, no stores open, and no extra clothes.

Shoes are a big topic in Walt Disney World planning circles. The only footwear restrictions I’m aware of at Walt Disney World are that you must be wearing shoes in the theme parks and that Heelies (or similar) cannot be used in their wheeled form. I’ve seen guests sporting flipflops, sneakers, Crocs, sandals, boots, Uggs, ballet flats, and even stiletto heels while touring the parks. You should wear whatever makes you most comfortable. Be aware that you will be walking for MILES during your trip; blisters are a common complaint in the parks. This is not the time to try something new. If you’re traveling during the summer months, you may want to bring a second pair of walking shoes in case your feet get soaked in one of the frequent Florida downpours. Trekking in wet shoes can be quite unpleasant. If I’m visiting during the summer, I’ll pop a pair of flip flops into my day bag so I can switch out of sneakers during the inevitable rain.

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Holiday Gifts for the Disney Traveler

by on November 13, 2013

If the music playing in my local grocery store is any indication, the holidays are right around the corner. (What the heck is a calling bird, anyway?) And that means lots of folks will be taking a family trip to the Disney parks or giving a Disney trip as a holiday gift.

Stuff their stockings with gum, because they won't find it at Disney World.

Stuff their stockings with gum, because they won’t find it at Disney World.

In addition to the big “Ta Daaaa” of Disney trip gift, there are many smaller items that can serve as an adjunct tangible under-the-tree present to enhance the vacation and make you a hero to the Disney travelers in your life. You might also consider using some of these items as part of a scavenger hunt surprise trip reveal or combining several of the smaller items into a Mickey-tastic gift basket.

Any of the things below would make a great gift for someone planning a Disney vacation.

Happy shopping …

  • Luggage: You’re going to need a suitcase or two for almost every Disney vacation. My go-to travel bags are from the LL Bean Quickload Luggage collection, mostly because their soft sides are quite forgiving when I have to squeeze in just one more souvenir. But there are plenty of options if you’re looking for Disney-themed suitcases or totes.
  • Disney Gift Cards: Disney gift cards can be used to pay for everything from your hotel room to a cupcake. They’re accepted at the vast majority of resort, retail, and restaurant locations at Walt Disney World (as well as at other Disney related locations). A little mad money would surely be appreciated.

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Keeping Your Clothing Clean at Walt Disney World

by on January 5, 2012

With today’s airline baggage fees, you can often reap significant savings by traveling with only carry on luggage. This is not much of challenge if your trip to Walt Disney World is only a few days long. Just pack the basics and wear your heaviest or bulkiest items while in transit. However, if your Disney visit is longer, it can be a challenge to cram enough clothing for a week or two into a tiny roller bag. The solution: do some laundry.

Door to Guest Laudry Room at All Star Sports, pool chairs reflected in the window

Anyone who knows me well can attest that I am NOT a fan of doing chores while on vacation, but the prospect of having to fork over several hundred dollars to an airline for my family to all bring checked suitcases is enough to make even me do laundry while visiting Walt Disney World. The good news is that Disney makes it about as quick and painless as possible to refresh your wardrobe during your trip.

By far the easiest laundry situation is Disney’s Villa Resorts (currently Bay Lake Tower, Saratoga Springs, Villas at Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas, Old Key West, Beach Club Villas, Boardwalk Villas). The one, two, and three bedroom villas all include a washer/dryer right in the room, usually tucked away in a closet. The laundry area comes stocked with a starter single-use box of detergent. If you’re doing more loads, you’re welcome to bring detergent powder from home or purchase more single boxes in the resort gift shop. As Disney Vacation Club members, my family often stays in villa rooms. While I don’t often make good use of the full kitchen, I do love being able to wash out sweaty tees or dry wet swimsuits in the room laundry.

Change machine and supplies, Bay Lake Tower

Even if you’re not in a villa, you’ll still have easy access to laundry facilities no matter where you stay at Walt Disney World. Every Disney resort hotel has at least one, and sometimes several, public guest laundry room. Frequently, the laundry rooms are located near one of the resort’s pools. This allows you to keep an eye on your clothes while you lounge in the sun or take the touringplans recommended mid-afternoon swim. The location of your resort’s laundry rooms is noted on the map you will receive from the front desk upon check-in.

The hotel laundry rooms are set up like traditional laundromats, only much cleaner. Most laundry rooms have between three and seven each of washers and dryers, allowing you to accomplish several loads at once. The machines are coin operated, taking quarters only. All the laundry rooms I’ve seen have included a change dispensing machine (fee in dollars and get back quarters) and a vending machine for clothes washing basics such as detergent and fabric softener. While prices can change, you can expect to spend approximately $5.00 total for each load of wash. Two dollars or $2.50 for the wash, $1.00 or $1.50 for soap, $1.00 to $1.50 for drying, depending on the density of your wash. (Jeans and towels take longer to dry than light cotton baby onesies.)

Coin-operated machines

In addition to wash facilities, many of the guest laundry rooms also include a comfortable chair or two and sometimes a television set. There are also hotel phones in the laundry rooms so that you can easily keep in touch with family members in the room or contact housekeeping to report any problems.

Valet service pricing sheet.

If you’re interested in getting your clothing clean, but not interested in doing the wash yourself, valet service is available at all the Walt Disney World resort hotels. Valet service includes dry cleaning, pressing, or straight up laundry. Again, prices can change, but for ballpark information some sample rates as of December 2011 were: dry clean suit, $11.50; dry clean skirt, $6.50, dry clean shirt, $6.25; launder socks $2.00; launder pajamas, $6.00; launder tee shirt, $4.50. Obviously, it is much more cost effective to launder washable items yourself, but the dry cleaning rates are not far off what my local New York cleaner charges. If you’re in a pinch, it’s nice to know the option is there. However, while pricing for valet services seems to be uniform across all resort levels, the level of work you’ll have to do to get valet service varies at the Disney resorts. At the value resorts, if you’d like an item drycleaned, you must bring it to the bell services desk near the main resort lobby. At the moderate and deluxe resorts, you’ll find a laundry bag and valet price list hanging in the closet of your room. Touch the housekeeping button on your room phone and someone will come to the room to collect your items for you.

Valet service is available seven days a week. Items sent for service before 8:30 a.m. will be returned to you the same day, usually by 6:00 p.m. And for those who wish to do some touch-up pressing on their own, irons and ironing boards are standard equipment in all WDW hotel rooms.

How do you keep your clothing fresh while you’re on your Walt Disney World vacation? Have you ever done laundry during your trip? What have your experiences been?

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