Posts Tagged ‘touring’

Touring Epcot Without Fastpass+ or Dining Reservations

by on September 7, 2015

Epcot MapAs a reader of the TouringPlans blog, I’m going to assume that you like to spend some time planning your Walt Disney World vacations. And if you’re anything like me, you might spend a lot of time planning (okay…obsessing) about all of the details that go into a perfect day.

So what is an uber-planner to do when they find themselves in Epcot with no Fastpass+ or dining reservations booked? No need to panic! I’m going to share with you my favorite personalized Epcot touring plan that requires no Fastpass+ or advance dining reservations, but still allows you to experience all that Epcot has to offer.

Please read on to see my touring plan in action!

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Disney World After Dark: 10 Tips for Night Owls

by on August 3, 2015

Just about every reputable planning guide for Walt Disney World (ahem, Unofficial Guide) strongly advises getting up early in Orlando – really early. During the winter holidays, making rope drop for an morning Extra Magic Hour at Magic Kingdom could have your family strolling up to the tapstiles shortly after 6:00. In the morning.

But if you haven’t seen a sunrise since the last time you stayed out all night, never despair. You don’t need to sacrifice your sleep-in to have a great time at Walt Disney World. In fact, the dark hours are some of my favorite times to be in the parks. Here’s how you can have a fabulous night owl-optimized vacation at Walt Disney World, without bringing an alarm clock into it:

Magic Kingdom at night. Main Street U.S.A.’s best hour.

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Top Five Ways to End Your Day at Disney California Adventure

by on April 22, 2013

Photos by Seth Kubersky

Recently, I shared some of my favorite ways to start a morning at Disney California Adventure. Today, let’s look at the flip side of the operating day. While crowds are arriving early every day at DCA’s front gate since Cars Land‘s arrival, some of the park’s highlights can only be experienced after dark. Here are my top five ways to finish off an evening at DCA:

Drinks With a View

One distinct advantage DCA has over its older brother across the Esplanade is the ability to imbibe alcoholic beverages as you tour. You’ll find spots to whet your whistle all around the park, from Carthay Circle’s swanky downstairs lounge to the imported beer kiosk near the Paradise Garden Grill. Nothing beats having a finely crafted cocktail in the night air, enjoying the park’s cleverly Imagineered aesthetics, and DCA has a couple of ideal evening watering holes.

I’ve already extolled the romantic virtues of the Alfresco Lounge at Golden Valley Winery, which has a second-story view down Route 66 to the stunning Cadillac Mountain range. Another great spot for a beverage is the Cove Bar behind Ariel’s Grotto; simply cut through the restaurant lobby to reach this often-overlooked gem. In addition to the standard extensive drink list, the Cove offers a small menu of large appetizers; the lobster nachos are big enough for four or more to share. Best of all, the bar recently rescinded its policy of levying a $10 cover charge during World of Color performances, making it a great place to watch the show, provided you don’t mind an obtuse perspective of the water screens.

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Where Do You Nap at the Disneyland Resort?

by on April 3, 2013

photos by Seth Kubersky

As every experienced theme park commando knows, the Unofficial Guide’s number one tip for visiting Disneyland on a busy day (like during 2013’s spring break season) is “arrive early, arrive early, arrive early.” But the flip side is our paradoxical suggestion to stay late during extended operating hours, in order to take advantage of evening entertainment and shorter attraction lines.

Following both recommendations can result in spending a solid 16+ hours inside the park, if you enter at 8am and depart at midnight (a standard peak-season operating schedule). If that sounds more like a death march than a vacation to you, you’re not alone. That leads us to our most frequently overlooked essential epigram of touring intelligence: take a nap! A few minutes (or hours) of shut-eye in the middle of the afternoon will not only re-energize you for the evening, but also offer an escape from the worst wait times of the day. By the way, this advice is just as crucial for adults as it is for children. Even if you never take a nap at home, take the time for a lie-down any day you spend over 8 hours touring. Trust me, you’ll thank us!

Unlike the sprawling Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort is compact and easily accessible from numerous off-site hotels, making it easy for many guests to walk from the park gates to their rooms in less time than it take to retrieve a vehicle from the parking garage. If you are staying on property or within a short stroll of Disneyland, there’s absolutely no excuse not to take a mid-day rest in your room.

However, there are still plenty of visitors who can’t or won’t leave the Disneyland Resort and return again later that day. When you need to recharge, but don’t want to walk off property, where do you go? If you can’t retreat to your room, there are still some quiet corners amid the resort’s chaos where you can catnap. For starters, here are four of my favorite spots to sneak forty winks around the Disneyland Resort.

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5 Ways to Start Your Day In Disneyland Park

by on March 14, 2013

Moments before rope drop at Disneyland Park (all photos by Seth Kubersky)

If you’ve been following us at Touring Plans for a while, you already know the first and most important step on any Disneyland itinerary: arrive at the front gate early (at least 40 minutes before opening during busy seasons) with your tickets in hand.

But what do you do first once you’re through the turnstiles? People have their own traditions for where to head first at the Happiest Place on Earth. Here are five of my favorite ways to kick off my day at Disneyland Park.

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Touring for Two: Twelve Tips for Visiting Walt Disney World While Pregnant

by on November 17, 2011

Walt Disney World is a perfect vacation spot for families with young children. And, nature being what it is, people with young children often find themselves making more young children. This means that at any given time there are lots and lots of pregnant women at the Disney parks. Here are some tips for coping if one of them is you:

  1. Check in with your doctor. Yep, I mean it. Your doctor is the best source of information about travel safety for your unique health situation. She will probably giggle when you call to ask whether a trip to Disney is OK, but this is most definitely a better-safe-than-sorry situation.
  2. Be prepared for medical contingencies. Make sure to always have your doctor’s contact information, your health insurance card, and information about any medications that you’re taking, on your person, even in the parks. While the likelihood of your needing any of this is minimal, in the event of an emergency, you want make sure that your access to care goes as smoothly as possible. While you’re in diligence mode, spend a moment with the map of each park to note the location of the first aid center. If you’re experiencing discomfort or have a question, the wonderful cast members there can provide assistance or recommend sources of more comprehensive care.
  3. The first aid center is your friend

  4. Keep cool. It’s no secret that Florida can be hot, hot, hot. With an already stressed body, overheating can lead to numerous problems for both mother and child. To keep your core tempertaure down, be sure to stay hydrated. In addition to the pricey water bottles for sale in the parks, you are welcome to bring you own water with you. The counter service restaurants will also give you free cups of ice water; just ask. You may want to consider other methods of cooling as well. Try carrying an umbrella or parasol as your own source of shade. Those misting fans are a great way to cool off. You can also place a commercial cool pack or even a wet washcloth on your neck. Try to make the entertainment focus of your trip indoor shows and attractions where you can sit in air-conditioned comfort. And even if you’re not a swimmer, you may want to consider taking a dip in your resort’s pool. In addition to being a great way to cool off, the weightlessness effect of the water can take a lot of pressure off your joints.
  5. Note restroom locations. If you’re staying hydrated, then you’re going to need to make some fairly frequent pitstops. Keep a park map handy and note the locations of restrooms. While oppressively long lines are uncommon in Disney bathrooms, you may encounter one or two during your trip. If you’re in a must-go situation, don’t be afraid to ask to cut to the front of the line. In my experience, many of the women in line ahead of you will be moms who completely understand.
  6. Plan rest times. TouringPlans almost always recommends that guests take a mid-day break from the parks. This goes double for pregnant women. Go back to your hotel. Put your feet up or take a nap. Even plan for a total relaxation day in the middle of your trip. Please.
  7. Look for warning notices on attraction signs

  8. Heed the warnings. While most attractions at Walt Disney World are perfectly safe for any guest, there are a few that come with health warnings for pregnant women. Most of these are the obvious thrill rides, but some “tamer” rides also have warning notices. For example, the Kilimanjaro Safari at the Animal Kingdom has advisories against pregnant women riding because of the bumpy road surfaces and jarring movements of the jeep. This may seem silly, but why take chances that you don’t need to? Get informed by checking the signage at each ride.
  9. Pamper yourself. This is your vacation. Consider stopping by the Saratoga Springs Spa for an Expectant Mother Massage. Or hire a sitter for your older child and lounge with your hubby on the beach at the Polynesian while watching the fireworks. Sure it’s a splurge, but you’re worth it.
  10. Plan your lodging with comfort in mind. While you may be fine on a double bed at the Pop under most circumstances, this may be the trip in which you’ll be most happy if you upgrade to nicer digs. Those king-sized beds at the Contemporary truly are more comfortable. Or consider booking a one or two bedroom DVC villa. These are equipped with large jacuzzi-style tubs – absolute heaven when you’re exhausted. No matter where you stay, consider asking for a centrally located room, near the restaurants and transportation. The less walking you have to do at the hotel, the more energy you’ll have in the parks.
  11. Keep cool in the pool

  12. Plan your food intake. Many pregnant women experience changes in their taste preferences. Take this into consideration when you’re planning your dining reservations. Perhaps your usual love of spicy Mexican food should be indulged on a future trip. Also, because of your temporarily restricted stomach capacity, you may be more comfortable having smaller meals or snacks throughout the day, rather than attempting to beat-the-buffet. This may influence your decision about whether to purchase the Disney Dining Plan. You should also remember that you are permitted to bring your own food with you into the parks (avoiding glass containers). Even if you don’t normally bring your own snacks with you, it may make sense to keep a supply of healthy, known palatables with you at all times.
  13. Beware the skunk. Just as many pregnant women have food sensitivities, they also may have scent sensitivities. Walt Disney World happens to be a very “smelly” place. From the perfume counters at Epcot’s France pavilion, to the faux chili dogs burped by Stitch in his Great Escape, and the aroma of skunk in the Journey to Imagination attraction, scents are used to enhance many park experiences. If you are in a phase where odors make you queasy, take extra care to become informed about which attractions have added aromas.
  14. Be aware of how much you’re walking. During my own pregnant trip to Walt Disney World, I was five months along with twins. I was in good health and well acquainted with the parks. On the first day of the trip, I toured at our usual pace – skipping from one end of the Magic Kingdom to the other to minimize wait times. At the end of the day, I felt like my knees and hips had become unhinged. I had forgotten that ligament-loosening hormones and extra weight completely changed the amount of stress regular activities would have on my body. Start slow and modify both your pace and distance traveled to accommodate your new shape. If you start to feel like walking is too much for you, wheelchairs are available for rental at the front of each park. There’s no shame in rest when you’re touring for two.
  15. There are healthy snacks available in the parks

  16. Bring a book. You’ll be skipping the thrill rides on this trip, but that doesn’t mean your family members have to. Let them go ahead and conquer the Yeti on Expedition Everest while you take the opportunity to relax on a shady bench with a cool drink. Your family will feel much less guilty about leaving you behind for a bit if they know that Jodi Picoult is keeping you company.


So ladies – What have you done to make your pregnant park excursions more manageable? And gents – Do you have any advice for making the trip with a pregnant partner run smoothly. Let us know in the comments below.