5 Disney World Survival Kits

On a short trip into a Walt Disney World park with older children (or none at all), it’s possible to go in free of cumbersome bags or backpacks.  The rest of the time?  Not so much.  Supplies are necessary.  The right supplies…imperative.  Personalized to your travel party’s particular needs, the well-prepared survival kit can save the day.

5 Disney World Survival Kits

Need one or need them all, survival kits are best packed in appropriately sized zip-lock bags carried within your backpack or carryall.  This way your supplies are protected from rain and water rides alike and all contents are sorted by their respective purpose.

  1. Weather Warrior Kit – Think sunscreen, caps or visors, lip balm with high SPF, rain ponchos, hairbrush & barrettes/ponytail holders, blotting papers, and wet wipes.  Sun or rain, this kit’s designed to keep you both comfortable and safe from sunburn and soaking rain (or Kali River Rapids).  It also allows you to touch up a bit before sitting down for a meal.Kali River Rapids / Disney's Animal Kingdom
  2. Tenderfoot Kit – If you are prone to blisters or sore feet, it’s best to think ahead.  You may need a dry pair of socks, moleskin, anti-chafing balm (like Body Glide) or even an easy to carry change of footwear.  No matter the park, you’ll be covering a lot of territory – best be ready to address the situation before those dogs start barking.
  3. Anti Hangry Kit – Hungry + Angry = Hangry.  When you’re having fun, it’s easy to ignore the early signs of hunger until it’s too late…suddenly folks are starving and you’re right in the middle of the line for Expedition Everest.IMG_2511Not to worry if you’re prepared!  Choose snacks that won’t melt in the Florida heat.  We like granola bars, Goldfish crackers, trail mix, hard candies and mixed nuts.  Consider some juice pouches if you have little ones along.
  4. Line Survival Kit – While Disney’s interactive queues have done wonders for the wait, there are still plenty of opportunities for boredom to set in (I’m looking at you, Soarin’).  Think age-appropriate activities that won’t run down your smartphone or tablet battery.  Trivia books, Hidden Mickeys Guide, small toys or puzzles, you get the idea.  You know your family and what they like – be prepared for impatience an pack accordingly.
  5. Mini Medicine Chest – This one’s been my savior on many occasion.  Skinned knees need a bandage, upset stomachs need an antacid, headaches and allergies need relief.  Thinks basics in small quantities and you won’t be sorry you planned ahead.Mini First Aid Kit for Walt Disney World Travel

How about you?  Are you a Disney World veteran?  What’s in your survival kit?

Sensible Consumption on a Disney Vacation

Clam-mobile-selfie“Work hard, play hard!” – I like this motto.  We do work hard and we deserve to relax and have fun, right?  By golly, we’ve earned it!  When we go on vacation, we tend to throw moderation to the wind, kick up our heels and indulge, feast and pamper ourselves – all the things we deny ourselves day-to-day.  I’m no nutrition or financial management expert, but as I get older, I feel like I’m having a more difficult time snapping back after playing hard.  When we vacation, we tend to over-indulge in every area – food, drinks, and snacks, extras and souvenirs.  Never is this more true than on a Disney vacation.  I’d like to change that habit.

Sensible Consumption on a Disney Vacation

Let’s talk about food first.  Our family is all about trying new things and making our Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) at the earliest possible time.  One table-service meal per day is our minimum requirement for optimum happiness and we’ve been known to book more.  We overeat on vacation and rationalize it by believing that all the walking we do will burn off those excess calories – honestly, that’s just not the case.  Shula's-Filet-TwoThe older we get, the harder it is to lose weight.  Gone are the days where those extra pounds just drop back off once we get home. Recently at Walt Disney World, Raymond and I tried to be more mindful of this – baby steps, really – and what we tried seemed to work well!  On next vacation, we plan to use these strategies –

  • Portion Control – Often portions are HUGE and totally share-able.  We tried sharing lunch a couple of times – splitting appetizer, entrée, and dessert.  Turns out, we were completely satisfied with half-portions and this was a great lesson to take into the future.Citrus-Swirl
  • Give and Take – Think a little bit ahead as in…I’ll pass on this ice cream now in favor of dessert with dinner.  I’ll admit that this one will be a bit of a challenge – when I’m hungry and have a hankerin’ for a churro or a Mickey ice cream bar, I’m in the moment and might swear (to myself) that I’ll pass on dessert later.  In reality, if cheesecake’s on the menu, Raymond will definitely order it and I’ll have to eat some.  This one sounds good in theory, but execution may prove impossible.Be-our-Guest-Eggs
  • Choose “Less Unhealthy” options – It’d be silly to suggest that we could or would eat only healthy meals at Walt Disney World, but we can make better selections.  Maybe.  We can try!

Now, about those adult beverages – We enjoy wine with dinner, but recently blundered with wine pairings for each course at Jiko.  Not only did we overeat big-time, but were way too sleepy when we left – no return to the parks for us that night.  We headed straight back to our resort and fell asleep.  I don’t even want to talk about what that splurge did to our dinner bill.  It’s easy to over-indulge with empty calories in this category, but we’ve got a plan formulated for dealing with that as well…Shula's-Wine

  • Allow one (maximum of two) splurges per day – We know we’re still going to order a bottle of wine with dinner, but we can cut down on the number of times we stop for a cold beer in Animal Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Also, we love the Resort Loop Pub Crawl but can probably be perfectly happy with one stop per day (or less).Rose&Crown-Beer-Flight
  • Prioritize our “Must-Try” list – There are quite a few things on this list – most of which can be found in World Showcase.  Before I say planning in advance for these vacation libations will take all the fun and spontaneity out of exploring the World, we need to give it a try…I’ll let you know how it goes.RM-Top-of-the-World-Lounge-Coffee
  • Skip the after dinner specialty coffee – Yes, even after the wine, it’s sometimes tempting to enjoy a fancy adult coffee with dessert…or even AS dessert.  Since this splurge is rare, it may be the easiest one to do without.

The extra expenses – Food and beverages are a huge part of our vacation budget, so we try to work out how much that’s going to set us back and set aside that money in advance.  We save about $7 when we purchase $150-worth of Disney gift cards at Sam’s Club, so I try to buy enough gift cards pre-vacation to take care of our food, drinks, and any spa treatments we have booked.  As far as souvenirs go, I’m all about Disney Christmas ornaments and always add one or two to our collection on every vacation.  We usually also like to buy a couple of Disney pins and a coffee mug.  If we could stick with these, we wouldn’t have a problem – we could easily budget for this expense.Shoe-Ornament-Mrs. Incredible

Disney merch!  This company sure has our number and knows exactly what buttons to push to get us to spend more by playing on our emotions.  There’s really only one way to cut down on spending in this category and that would be to stop shopping!  Ha!  Like that’s going to happen.  What we can do is just say no…right now.  RM-Mickey-Tray RM-Mickey-Dinner-Plate RM-Minne-WatchWith the Shop Disney Parks app and the ability to use personal shoppers from home, if I pass up something using this “say no right now” method and later decide I can’t live without whatever it was, I can always try to get it later.  I believe this will cut way down on impulse/emotionally driven purchases.  Maybe.  We’ll see, won’t we.

Do you try to exercise sensible consumption on your Disney vacations?  What are your best ideas to avoid over-indulging? 



Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom – A Feast for the Senses

Welcome Show at Magic KingdomWhen I daydream about being at Walt Disney World – which I do often and for extended periods of time (Don’t you?) – Magic Kingdom is one of my favorite places to bring to mind.  It’s easy, thanks to my memories of those incredible, magical Disney details, to recall certain sounds, sights, smells, flavors and feelings.  What makes my family passionate about our favorite vacation destination is how easy it is to re-live (in our memories) our happiest Disney moments!

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom – A Feast for the Senses

Take all those favorite moments and add them together.  It’s easy to imagine myself in each of my favorite Magic Kingdom locations.  Here’s what’s going on in my mind:

The cool, humid air inside the queue for Pirates of the Caribbean – Often a welcome respite from the Florida sun, the smooth feel of the plastic seat when I board the boat, the smell (OH, that smell!) of the water as the deep, eerie voice warns, “Dead men tell no tales“.   Then I can see, perfectly in my mind, all the best (to me) moments of that attraction!  The dog with the jail key and the pirates behind bars whistling and coaxing him, the pirate on the bridge with his dirty food and hairy leg, so many great details!  “We wants the redhead!”IMG_4466

See how easy it is?  Engage all your senses in your memories and it’s the next best thing to being there!  Let me get you going with a few more iconic Magic Kingdom moments, categorized by sense involved!RM-Magic-Kingdom-Autumn

Sight – Main Street U.S.A.’s colors, signs, window decorations…the motion of the crowd and the Main Street Vehicles against the backdrop of Cinderella Castle.  Imagine the glint of light reflecting off the castle’s turrets or the details that are lit up in the queue for Space Mountain – oh, wait! How about Space Mountain itself – the exterior is an awesome sight.  As is the sheer magic of Big Thunder Mountain!!!RM-Space-Mountain-Sign

Sound – The Dapper Dans, Casey’s Corner piano player, the screams and booming whoosh of the Splash Mountain logs plunging into the briar patch!  Do you know that weird clicking sound in the first part of Haunted Mansion?  I love that sound!  How about the radio voice in the queue for Jungle Cruise?  Wonderful!  Doesn’t Jiminy Cricket’s voice make you SO happy during Wishes?  I also adore (beyond a reasonable amount) the prospector’s voice on Big Thunder – “…hang onto them hats and glasses, cause this here’s the wildest ride in the wilderness!” The Red Rock of Big Thunder Mountain

Touch – My kids have always made fun of me for my need to touch store merchandise as I shop.  I can’t help it – how things feel is part of the experience!  Take the seats on The PeopleMover – not only are they a beautiful blue, they feel great!  I also love the smoothness of those clam mobiles in Under the Sea – Voyage of the Little Mermaid in Fantasyland.  Have you ever noticed the contrast between the felt part and the ears on a classic Earhat?  Part of what makes a churro a great snack is the crunch when you bite into it!  Same with the outside of a Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar.RM-Churro

Taste – Doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of Magic Kingdom popcorn, Dole Whip, Citrus Swirl, churro, ice cream, turkey leg, Mickey pretzel or hotdog – everyone has their favorite Disney foods and Magic Kingdom offers plenty of the good stuff!  Personal favorite – the sweet and spicy chicken waffle at Sleepy Hollow in Liberty Square.RM-Sweet-&-Spicy-Chicken-Waffle-Sandwich

Smell – I’ve already mentioned the water smell in Pirates, but how about that delicious smell on Main Street? The exhaust from the Tomorrowland Speedway? The pies in Mickey’s PhilharMagic?  What are your favorite scents in Magic Kingdom?

Hopefully by now you’ve got the hang of this total Magic-Kingdom-memory-by-senses thing and are completely immersed in happy memories!  Now it’s your turn!  What special things make your pixie-dusted vacation memories special?   




Show Your Love at Disney World

Animal Kingdom's Dinosaur RideLove is patient and kind, right? Love is about sharing and compromise, giving and taking. This applies even on vacation. Because you’re here with me, you know I’m talking Disney vacations specifically – and never have I found a place with more opportunity to practice showing love than at Walt Disney World. It’s not easy sometimes to step outside your comfort zone and take one for the team. For today’s Friday Five, I’d like to help you…

Show Your Love at Disney World!

Wear It:  Push aside any thoughts you might have of looking silly, childish or stupid – if your family wants to wear matching t-shirts, Earhats, or all-inclusive, themed costumes for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, do it! For sure you won’t be alone and you might just enjoy yourself even more.Meg and Joe at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Ride It: Unless you have a medical condition that would prevent you from being physically able to enjoy a ride or attraction safely, don’t knock anything until you try it. If your family wants to go, please don’t stay behind because you don’t think you’ll like it. This is about making family memories. Together!Kali River Rapids / Disney's Animal Kingdom

Wait For It: If you don’t have any patience for waiting, figure out how you’re going to deal with waiting at Disney World because wait you will! If a member of your family suddenly wants to add parade watching or princess meeting to the agenda, give it your best try! A little research ahead of time will clue you in on where the best and worst waits are – choose your FastPasses accordingly.Exterior of Indiana Jones Theater / Disney's Hollywood Theater

Stop For It – The view is different for everyone and magical details and surprises are everywhere. Unexpected delights will spring up from time to time and someone will want to stop and check them out. Pay attention and share the moment of awe and discovery. Maybe there’s a giant peeking into the shop you’re in. Maybe there are footprints in the walkway. A door might suddenly open to reveal a surprise.It's a Small World Clock

Go Along With It – Get over yourself! Nobody needs to be “that guy”. The one who won’t pose (and smile) for pictures with characters or sits glumly at a character meal. You should be trying to be a part of Enchanted Tales With Belle.  Wave at parade characters, visit with Cast Members, play along with your server at Whispering Canyon or 50’s Prime Time Café – let yourself be part of the magic! Your family will love it and you might love it too.

What’s your favorite way to show love to your family at Walt Disney World?