Posts Tagged ‘trip planning’

The Best of Walt Disney World for Girls

by on August 29, 2017

Welcome back to Part 3 of my blog series – The Best of Walt Disney World! In case you missed it, over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing with you the top picks in attractions for various groups of travelers visiting the Walt Disney World theme parks. So far we’ve discussed favorites for babies and preschoolers. Next up are those cute little princesses…grade school girls. When checking out the list, keep in mind each attraction that made the cut scored at least four stars by the grade school kids surveyed. Come on, everybody, here we go!

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The Best of Walt Disney World for Preschoolers

by on August 22, 2017

Welcome back to Part 2 of my blog series – The Best of Walt Disney World! In case you missed it, over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing with you the top picks in attractions for various groups of travelers visiting the Walt Disney World theme parks. Last time we discussed favorites for babies, and next up are the adorable preschoolers. When checking out the list, keep in mind each attraction that made the cut scored at least four stars by the preschoolers surveyed. Come on, everybody, here we go!

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Disney YouTube Channels You Should Be Watching

by on April 13, 2016

TouringPlans logoIn need of a Disney fix? Homesick for the Disney Parks? Looking to learn more about the Walt Disney World Resort? My remedy, along with Disney Movie Marathons and sites such as TouringPlans, is YouTube! To be more specific, Disney YouTube Channels.

There are quite a few out there these days; and while I try to visit the Walt Disney World Resort as often as I can, a number of YouTubers have helped to expand my knowledge of the parks and resorts, granted me a glimpse or two of special park events, and just allowed me to come along for the ride with those who know Walt Disney World best! Again, there are A LOT of YouTubers out there spreading the pixie dust; but for today, I’m listing a few that you may or may not have seen but who I think are well worth your time. So get ready because here’s my list of Disney YouTube Channels You Should Be Watching!


This YouTube Channel is one of my favorites because it’s so unique! David Erickson, the creator and host of Fresh Baked Disney, visits the Disneyland Resort every single weekend and then uploads a video of his weekly visit each day. That’s why the channel is called Fresh Baked Disney, because you’re getting a little bit of Disney baked fresh daily!

David, along with co-hosts Sara and Mike, are the main cast but other friends and even fans of the show join them during their visits to Disneyland. In fact, the different relationships, personalities, and antics are part of what makes the show so fun and entertaining and you feel like you’re right there with them! When watching the show, you will notice that they are often stopped by their fans, known as Fresh Baked Muffins, for a photo and a chat. They are getting pretty well known by Disneyland Fans so be sure to keep an eye out for them if you’re out and about the resort on the weekends.

In addition to their trip reports to the Disneyland Resort, Fresh Baked Disney also produces other videos for their viewers, such as Disneyland Secrets and History, Top Tens, Mailing and Unboxings, David’s “I’ve Got Something to Say,” and even a new series called The Knothole Gang where, each week, he gives Star Wars Land construction updates from various locations throughout Disneyland.

Fresh Baked Disney has two other channels worth checking out too, such as Fresh Baked Gaming and Fresh Baked Presents.

So yeah, you should definitely be watching Fresh Baked Disney if you aren’t already. Even as a Disney World Regular, I love Fresh Baked Disney because it gives me an insider glimpse into Disneyland from someone who has visited each week for years and brings me along on a Disneyland adventures with friends.

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Key to Vacation Happiness: Realistic Expectations

by on March 17, 2016

Take a vacation to Walt Disney World and you’ll inevitably see a family having an experience that doesn’t quite live up to “the happiest place on Earth.”

Kids crying, parents grumbling through gritted teeth, “do you know how much I paid for this vacation?” It’s a far cry from the image of kids embracing a character in front of Cinderella’s Castle in a virtually empty Magic Kingdom that is portrayed in the commercials for Walt Disney World. But crowds, confusion and chaos can diminish a Disney vacation that a family has built up as the trip of a lifetime.

What's missing from this picture? Oh yeah, people. (Disney photo)

What’s missing from this picture? Oh yeah, people. (Disney photo)

So how do you make sure that your trip to the happiest place on Earth is just that? A recent study posits that the key to happiness is low expectations. Dr. Robb Rutledge, the senior research associate at University College London (UCL) who led the study, stated, “Lower expectations make it more likely that an outcome will exceed those expectations and have a positive impact on happiness.”

It makes some sense, except that no one visiting the Disney parks, should have low expectations. A better way to look at it is that someone planning their first Disney vacation should have realistic expectations. If you know exactly what you’re getting into, you’re much more likely to see your trip meet or exceed expectations. And if you’re reading a blog like this, you’re probably way ahead of most visitors.

When I first brought my family to Walt Disney World in 2009, I figured it would be our one and only Disney trip. So I wanted to do it right. That meant reading everything I could get my hands on – books, blogs and message boards; listening to the advice on Disney podcasts; and making smart use of a touring plan. Was the trip a success? The fact that I’ve returned five more times since then should make the answer clear.

Read on to learn more about how to keep your expectations realistic and your vacation happy.

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The Best of Walt Disney World for Babies

by on March 1, 2016

Welcome to Part 1 of my new blog series – The Best of Walt Disney World! Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing with you the top picks in attractions for various groups of travelers visiting the Walt Disney World theme parks.

How is this going to help me with my planning, you ask? Great question! Here’s how…Maybe you’ve always traveled to “the most magical place on earth” as a couple and now you’ll be taking your new baby, maybe this time grandma and grandpa will be joining you, or maybe this is your very first visit. No matter who you’re traveling with, I’ve got you covered with The Best of Walt Disney World series! And here’s how it will work…In each post, I’ll give you a rundown of the must do’s from each park along with some key information about that particular attraction and a link in case you are looking for even more in-depth details.

Now that we’ve gotten all of the basics out of the way, let’s begin Part 1 of The Best of Walt Disney World with the tiniest of travelers – babies!

So if this is your first time taking a baby with you to Walt Disney World, you may have heard people say there is no reason to bring them. They won’t be able to ride anything! Let me reassure you that is simply not the case. There are plenty of things for baby to experience at Walt Disney World. In fact, as long as there isn’t a height restriction, your little one is permitted to ride. My youngest son has been enjoying a wide variety of attractions and shows at the parks since he was just six months old. Please read on for a full list of The Best of Walt Disney World for babies!

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4 Reasons Walt Disney World Needs to Keep One Man’s Dream Open

by on September 10, 2015

As I write this, I am melancholy. One of my absolute favorite attractions in all of Walt Disney World is rumored to be in its last days, and there are plenty of signs to indicate this to be true. One Man’s Dream has been open for nearly 15 years and as new attractions appear on the horizon, it seems this small but mighty experience will close to make way. With that in mind I had to get to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and visit this important attraction for a proper send off. I’d like to share with you the highlights of the incredible historical collection and the four reasons an attraction of this nature is oh so necessary at Walt Disney World.

(photo by Brandon Glover)

(photo by Brandon Glover)

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Youth Clubs Aboard The Disney Wonder

by on June 3, 2015

Disney Wonder In AlaskaHave you booked a cruise on the Disney Wonder with your kids or are you just thinking about one? For a parent, one of the biggest concerns about cruising with children is whether there will be enough fun and entertaining things for the kiddos to do during the voyage. Rest assured, the Disney Cruise Line has got you covered! In part one of this two part series, I’ll share with you the information you’ll need to have a magical cruise with your kids aboard the Disney Wonder. In this article, we’ll take a look at the youth clubs available on the ship and in a second article posting soon, I’ll give you details on fun activities for the entire family to enjoy together. So let’s get started!

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Don’t Bust Your Budget: Don’t Buy These at Theme Parks!

by on February 17, 2015

Budgeting for a trip, be it to Walt Disney World or Universal Studios Orlando, is hard whether you live down the street, or you’re flying down for a week with the whole family. Between gas, hotels, meals, transportation, not to mention the tickets themselves (and don’t even pretend you ain’t all about a pair of those mouse ears), a trip of any length is already expensive. So why make it harder on your budget by buying the things in the theme parks that will gouge you the worst? Today we’re going to talk about some of the things you should never buy in a theme park or an on-property hotel if you value your wallet, and no, we’re not talking about souveniers or turkey legs… we’re talking about the necessities you might not think of, or might be thinking you can just pick up inside the park itself. And just because they don’t get enough love, let’s bring Lilo and Stitch along for the ride.

Lilo and Stitch belong to Disney

Remember, a creepy smile costs nothing. Photo © Disney


I want you to imagine this item strung from the ceiling above you with streamers, confetti, and a couple big neon Las Vegas arrows pointing at it for good measure. If you’re not from Florida, you might be underestimating just how abysmally evil that great big daystar is no matter what the season, and when you or your family starts turning pink, it’s usually far too late. (One poor British woman stopped me outside the lady’s room to ask me if her back was “as bad as it felt”. I think my face melted off like in Raiders of the Lost Ark when I saw it. It’s okay… I got better.) While most stores in the parks will carry some sort of sunscreen, not only are the types and SPF factor going to be extremely limited, but you’re going to pay upwards of $12.00 USD or more for a tiny bottle! You definitely shouldn’t mess around with sun protection, but you should definitely bring your own!

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Your Disney Trip Planning Timeline

by on February 10, 2015

TouringPlans logoIf you’re planning a trip to Disney World and reading this blog, you’ll have already seen multiple references to certain milestone dates for your vacation: You can make most restaurant reservations 180 days in advance of your arrival, for example. And that got us talking about what a comprehensive Disney trip planning timeline would look like.

Sure, we’ve tackled trip planning subjects before, including Erin Foster’s  and Evan Levy’s excellent Trip Planning 101 series. But we’ve never tried to fit an entire timeline into one page…until now.

Let us know in the comments if we’ve missed anything.

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This Ain’t Disney World! – Planning a First Visit to Universal Orlando

by on October 15, 2014

The scenery may be beautiful, but the line is VERY long.

The scenery may be beautiful, but the line is VERY long.

On our first visit to ‘the other Orlando park,’ my oldest daughter and I attended a viewing of Universal’s Horror Make-up Show. During the show, the volunteer, a nice woman ended up covered in red-dyed corn syrup. The hosts threw a towel out to the woman and called after, “That’ll be $14.50!” We all laughed, but knew it wasn’t exactly distant from the truth. Certainly, we knew most of the major differences between Disney World and Universal Studios. We weren’t, however, expecting to encounter such a myriad of differences between the two parks. Hopefully, some quick research, a planned touring plans itinerary, and this article can help you get a quick overview of what to expect at your first visit to Universal Orlando Resort.

The parks are over a small area. Really small. If you could walk through a few buildings, you could easily get back and forth between the parks. We could see Dr. Doom from our window at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. You can also take Hogwart’s Express between the two parks at any time, too. I’d avoid going during the surge of the middle of the day, but make certain to go both directions, so board at Hogsmeade Station, as well. Each ride is a bit different. The walk wasn’t quick, but it was awfully close.

Don’t, however, mistake close for convenient. I could see the park, but our walk to the entrance was about fifteen minutes each day along a winding path that seemed to close back over itself. We ended up walking to and from the parks every day, but getting through Universal can’t always be done quickly.

The queue and exit line for every ride can be pretty long, if they are needed or not. The line to get onto Dragon Challenge at Islands of Adventure is filled with beautiful pieces, the Triwizard Cup, banners for each champion, and VERY few people. Most of the occasions we were on the ride, it was essentially a walk-on. The theming was much better than I had expected, but the walk was LONG. The wait may have been longer for Flight of the Hippogriff than it was for Dragon Challenge. The queue for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was long, as well. It was filled with stations throughout Hogwarts, talking paintings, and myriads of setup. Perhaps the rides were purposefully trying to delay our boarding, but on multiple occasions, I wondered why I STILL had to walk through tons of labyrinthian mazes to get on the Seuss High in the Sky Trolley ride. The exit for Ripsaw Falls, I felt like I had mistakenly gotten back in line for another ride. Even the pathway between our hotel and Islands of Adventure I felt like it had carved out a purposefully winding path to throw off our pace. Each day, my pedometer on my iphone killed its battery. I never had an accurate step count, but I was well above 15,000 steps.

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