Festival of Fantasy Parade – Favorite Viewing Spots

To me, Magic Kingdom’s Festival of Fantasy Parade is one of the most fantastic, magical, amazing Disney creations EVER! (Totally not kidding – I’m crazy about it!)  Watch it once and tell me I’m wrong.  I love everything about it and while I may not be able to squeeze it into my schedule on every Walt Disney World visit, I make a point of seeing it as often as I can.  Finding the best spot from where to take in every charming detail can be a challenge, so let me share what tips I’ve learned.Festival of Fantasy Parade - Favorite Viewing Spots

Festival of Fantasy Parade – Favorite Viewing Spots

When deciding on an ideal parade viewing locale, a lot depends on the day’s FastPass line-up and what time we’re planning to leave Magic Kingdom.  Planning a little in advance, I try to minimize parade-spot-hunting time while making sure we’re well-situated for whatever’s next on our post-parade schedule.

Option 1 – Near the StartFestival of Fantasy Parade - Favorite Viewing Spots

The parade starts in Frontierland near the edge of Adventureland, so finding a place close to where the parade begins means no waiting for it to arrive further along the parade route.  Megan and I did this recently and thought it was great.  Once the parade passed, we were able to follow it to Liberty Square and ride Haunted Mansion with little wait.

Option 2 – On the HubFestival of Fantasy Parade

This one’s a little challenging on a hot, sunny day since there’s no real shade.  That being said, there’s nothing like watching Festival of Fantasy with Cinderella Castle as a backdrop.  If we can find a place to sit down, folded rain ponchos provide excellent posterior-protection from the burning hot concrete.  Tip – Claim your spot early and be ready to fend off encroachers.  This is a great spot to watch the parade if you’ll be headed to Fantasyland or Tomorrowland afterwards.Festival of Fantasy Parade - Favorite Viewing Spots

Option 3 – In Front of the Main Street Station

This is an excellent option if you want to make a quick getaway.  We stood facing Cinderella Castle and could see the parade as it made its way down Main Street USA before circling around right in front of us.  This location is at the very end of the parade route, so it takes a while for the magic to get there.  The ability to walk right out of the park after the last float passes by without battling the park crowds is so convenient!Festival of Fantasy Parade - Favorite Viewing Spots

The important takeaway here is that seeing Festival of Fantasy is worth the time and effort to find a place that fits into your family’s Magic Kingdom Plans.  There are tons of spots other than the ones I’ve listed from which to take in the action.  But do make room in your plans…you won’t be sorry!

Are you a Festival of Fantasy Parade fan?  Where’s your favorite parade-viewing location?

 

 

Disney Cruise Tips – Beyond Fish Extenders

It’s not like we spend every vacation at Disney World, you know.  We go other places…on Disney Cruise Line!  Two weeks from now we’ll be off on a new cruise adventure on the Disney Fantasy for the first time.  Eastern Caribbean…here we come!

When we sail for more than four nights, I like to get more involved in the Disney cruise experience than just visiting ports and participating in ship activities like eating constantly, attending cooking demos and playing trivia games.  I do this by joining a Facebook group for our cruise and signing up for group activities.

Disney Cruise Tips – Beyond Fish Extenders

Once upon a time, joining a Fish Extender group was all the rage.  We joined the fun on a couple of cruises and had a great time.  Now that we no longer travel with kids who’d get a kick out of the amazing assortment of gifts, we’re not so much into the whole FE thing.  However, we don’t have to abandon the fun completely.  There are alternatives to the traditional Fish Extender – same idea, but less geared towards children.  As a bonus, they also tend to take less prep time and not nearly as much room in your suitcase.

For our upcoming cruise, I found an excellent Facebook group with 400+ members.  This particular Facebook group has been one of the best I’ve experienced with lots of activity and newbies getting all their questions answered by seasoned Disney cruise fans.  The tireless group admin has organized several beverage tasting seminars for interested members and something like 19 different gift exchange groups.  In addition to traditional Fish Extender exchanges, there are magnet, postcard, ornament, and candy exchange groups.  It was hard to decide which to join!

I decided on the postcard group.  I ordered some Louisiana postcards from Zazzle and will include a favorite recipe with each one as I make the rounds to the staterooms in my group.  With postcards, there’s no actual Fish Extender necessary.  The card and recipe will fit neatly onto the Fish – or in the case of the Fantasy, the metal Seahorse beside each cabin door, whichever it may be.  We still get to do a fun group activity, but don’t need to bring anything to hang up and our “gifts” will be easy to bring along (and take home).

Have you joined a cruise group and participated in a Fish Extender or other gift-giving activity?  What type was it and how did it go?

Disney World in June – It’s Going to Rain

It’s almost here!  The Epic Mother/Daughter Disney Summer Road Trip is nearly upon us.  Megan and I are in the homestretch, bags are being packed and frequently checking the Orlando weather is our favorite pastime.  It’s going to rain.  Everyday probably.  That’s Florida in the summer.  Acceptance and preparation are key to powering on through the rain and still having a fun vacation.

Disney World in June – It’s Going to RainDisney World in June - It's Going to Rain

Shoes – The beauty of driving to Walt Disney World is practically unlimited packing space.  We’re taking lots of shoes especially.  If it’s not raining in the morning, we’ll start off in sneakers (a.k.a. tennis shoes, running shoes, trainers) and switch to rain-friendly footwear we can carry with us.  I like Croc’s ballet flats and any type of comfortable flip-flops with a textured food bed for safe and comfortable rain-survival.  In the Florida humidity, if our sneakers get wet they’ll take forever to dry, so we’re bringing multiple pairs.

Ponchos – Like wet sneakers, ponchos take a long time to dry and can quickly get moldy and unpleasant if wadded up wet and shoved back into a bag.  The key is to make like a boy scout and be prepared.  We’ll take along a few for each of us.  I’ve got leftovers from previous trips to bring along that were purchased at places like Wal-Mart, Target, and Walt Disney World – like a mini poncho wardrobe. Disney World in June - It's Going to RainPark Bags – Normally, I’m a minimalist when it comes to park bags and have even been known to go bag-free from time to time.  Being prepared for the expected torrential downpour will require more supplies and a larger bag.  Megan and I can fit everything in one backpack and take turns carrying it.  Extra shoes, first aid stuff, ponchos, some hairaphernalia for repairing our ‘do’s, snacks and drinks – we’ll be set for anything!  I got a new Mickey Mouse backpack a few months back as a purchase with a purchase…totes adorbs as the young folks say, isn’t it?Comfort and, I’d be lying if I said we didn’t care, appearance.  I appreciate the value of a good cap or visor.  In particular, I’m a fan of Headsweats visors.  They come in a bunch of colors and are excellent at wicking moisture then drying out quickly.  I especially like that the underside of mine is black to reduce sun glare.  They’re comfortable rain or shine and look nice too.  Wet weather and humidity are no match for any hairstyle on me other than a ponytail or bun which work well with my favorite visor. 

We’re planning to get wet.  The weather forecast says 60% chance of scattered showers everyday we’ll be there except one (when the chance is 40%).  Sometimes being prepared makes the difference between a good time and a GREAT time.  Who knows when Megan and I will get another chance to take a Disney vacation alone together – let the fun begin!  We are ready!

What are you favorite items to pack for the rainy summer days at Disney World?

Headed to Disney World – Time to Pack!

I’m a week away from our short trip to Disney World for the Dark Side Challenge.  It may be for only four days, but the same packing strategies I use for longer vacations still apply.

Headed to Disney World – Time to Pack!

I think about what I’ll be taking along in three categories:  Must-go items, things I’d like to have, and “if there’s room” extras.

Must-go Items

  • Magic Bands, IDs, money (gift cards, credit cards, small amount of cash), medical insurance card, DVC membership card, and Tables in Wonderland card. (Note:  I would never choose gray for a Magic Band color.)
  • Phone & chargers (both plug-in and on-the-go varieties)
  • Rain Poncho, cap and/or visor, and sunglasses
  • One outfit per day and as few pairs of shoes as possible (I’m a reformed vacation shoe over-packer).
  • Sweater or light jacket (I tend to get cold during sit-down meals)
  • Sunscreen, hair and makeup bare necessities
  • Running outfits for runDisney events & armband or waist carrier for my phone
  • Headphones
  • Mini first aid kit (Tylenol, antacid, Band-Aids)
  • Carry-on and park bag
  • Disney pins for tradingHeaded to Disney World - Time to Pack!

Things I’d Like to Have

  • 2-3 Extra shirts & an extra pair of shorts or pants – Sometimes it’s nice to have a fresh outfit to put on if we get back to our resort before going to dinner.  Especially if we’re eating someplace nice.
  • Swimsuit & Cover-up – We almost never swim, but it’s nice to be ready just in case.
  • Extra park bag(s) – I can make do with one, but having a couple of different sizes to choose from is better.
  • Snacks and/or Pre-race fuel – If I can bring Cliff bars or granola bars, I’m going to be much happier on race day(s) without the stress of trying to find something to eat that I’m sure won’t bother my stomach.  If I’m not going for a runDisney event, it’s nice to have snacks or breakfast items along to minimize the possibility of becoming “hangry”.
  • Flat iron – I don’t use one every day at home, but with the way my hair behaves in Florida, it’s certainly nice to have.

If There’s Room

  • Disney Exchange Podcast tees and pins to give away – I love meeting listeners and having something handy to give them.
  • Book and/or magazine – Nice at the airport and on the plane, but not a necessity.  I can always listen to music on my phone.
  • Extra cap(s) – I like choices and I like to color coordinate if I can.
  • My own hairdryer – Silly, but I’m used to it and get better results with my own versus the one supplied by the resort.
  • Laptop – I don’t have to have it, but it sure is nice if I want to whip up a blog post while I’m in the Disney Bubble.
  • Extra space for souvenirs – Yep, I’d like a little unused room.  There’s nothing worse than wanting to do some shopping and realizing you’ve got no way to carry anything home.  Sure, Disney will ship, but that adds a lot to the price.

That’s it.  On each and every Disney trip we take, I use this strategy and almost always come home with only one or two things I didn’t use or wear.  In the winter I pack a couple of extra layers and more pants, fewer shorts.  I refuse to pay for overweight luggage so I weigh my bag at home before we leave just to make sure.  Honestly, if I could get by with only a carry-on this trip, I’d be thrilled, but I doubt even the minimalist-packing me could pull it off.

What’s your Disney vacation packing strategy?