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By: Amy Baranek
August 17, 2017
We don’t like to talk about it, because we like our memories of the happiest place on earth to stay that way … however, melt downs are very real and can tax even the most calm and level-headed person around. Below are some suggestions to help reduce and maybe even avoid melt downs altogether on your vacation!
1. Watch Videos: This greatly helped my kids know what to expect. There were certain rides they decided just wouldn’t happen(Dinosaur-too scary). It also allowed them to visualize things like Expedition Everest(that I never thought they’d ride). After watching the video, it helped for them to know the unknown and we would discuss what worried them about the ride and how they could avoid it, this way they could make the decision on their own, with realistic expectations of what to expect on the rides.
2. Plan Sit Down Meals: Having a sit down meal (I prefer lunch or dinner) is a wonderful break from the heat and crowds of the park. Knowing that you have a reservation in air conditioned splendor is a great way to reset yourself and family.
3. Use Fastpass Wisely: I always give a list of most popular FastPass picks. If a ride you want is on here plan on using your top 3 picks around mid-late afternoon when the park will be the most crowded. You will be so happy getting in the 5 minute fastpass lane for Splash Mountain on a 90 degree day. There is the option for a 4th Fastpass and some people like to schedule Fastpasses as early as possible in the morning to take advantage of this. Here’s why this isn’t my favorite idea: Often, the FastPass pickings at this point are disappointing and sometimes nonexistent. The second reason is if you are there first thing in the morning, most rides have a very short wait making Fastpass unnecessary. I’m always happy to plan Fastpass,however you think will work best for your family, but I always want to be sure you have realistic expectations when planning.
4. Take a Hotel Break: This may not always be feasible, but getting out of the crowded park environment to reset either with a nap or some pool time can leave you recharged for the rest of the day!
5. Watch a Show: I always try to give people a quick list of reset areas. A sit down air conditioned show is great for this-and the best part is all the parks have it!
6. Have a Must Do List: Discuss with adults and kids what rides or characters at each park are must do’s. Everyone should be able to pick 1 or 2 must do’s and these must happen….no arguments, if anyone argues they are to be reminded about their must do that no one complained about. (This is how I got 2 kid boys and 2 adult boys to eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table)
7. Don’t Be Too Strict: Do remember, there are lots of new surroundings, stimuli from every direction and so much to do and see it is easy to get overwhelmed. Your kids will become hot, tired and cranky and will not be on their best behavior. Normal rules don’t apply. Relax your normal rules, don’t force a thank you, let them hold their stuffed animal, and don’t worry if they didn’t eat all their food.
8. Do Have a Plan: To counter above-DO NOT let them get away with hitting, tantrums, and whatever else you want to add in there. This can be hard to enforce-are you going to say “If you don’t stop it we’re going back to the hotel” because realistically, you’re probably not going to enforce this and when you are hot and crabby with a child that’s acting up, these things will come out of your mouth. Once your kids realize you aren’t fulfilling your threat-you are done for! What worked well for us was the snacks/dessert threat. We had the dining plan so each child would be able to use a snack a day. This could be whatever they wanted-a cupcake, Mickey bar, or Sprite. However, if they weren’t following my loose rules established for the parks, they would lose their snack. They quickly realized I wasn’t joking and for the most part-did well the rest of the trip.
9. Plan an Extra Day: How many park days do you want? Now, if possible, add another day to your stay. I like to have the ‘day of rest’ mid vacation so you can sleep in, relax, enjoy your hotel, or maybe some time at Disney Springs. It’s a great day to reset after a couple early mornings and late nights!
10. Use a Stroller: If your child is 5 or under-use a stroller! Yes, a 4 or 5 year old can walk, but do they typically walk 10 miles or more a day? Do you want to be carrying their hot sweaty body around when they have started crying because they just caaaan’t w a l k aaaaanymoooooore? No one gets a prize ribbon for having a 5 year old walk through Disney. If they walk most of it great-you’ve had a tiny cart to hold your water all day. I can almost guarantee that your child will be in the stroller at least 50% of the time; and you’ll be grateful for it!
11. Use a travel agent: Shameless plug, right? Honestly, we help plan and coordinate all of the above. A good agent will send you an itinerary and suggestions of what to do when the park is more crowded. Prior to this, they will help you figure out your family’s ideal plan and make dining reservations, FastPass reservations and more for your family. We are here to bounce ideas off of and give you new ones. Even if you think you know everything about Disney, 2 heads are better than one and we may just make you aware of a special offer or new event in a park before you even knew it was out. I love sending the ‘congrats, Disney released a new offer that applies to your stay and you saved hundreds of dollars on your trip’ email. The best part? You’ll be paying the same for your vacation using a travel agent as you would if you book on your own through Disney.
There you have it, my top tips to help avoid melt downs while at Disney. Some of these will even help with the excitement before your trip. Implement what will work best for you and your family but do use them, you will be much happier with a little prep work and planning in trying to reduce the dreaded Disney melt down!
I would love to help your family make their own melt down free memories at Disney! Please contact me anytime for a free quote at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 248-229-0307. It would be my pleasure to help you! Please remember, I help with all aspects of your travel including dining reservations and fastpass picks, and my concierge services are always complimentary! Also, please follow my Facebook page to stay up to date on all Disney offers!
By: Nicole Couch
August 15, 2017
Nothing beats having your expectations completely blown out of the water, especially while on vacation! This past October my family and I were completely “wowed” by the service and value offered through Disney Cruise Line on the “Secret Sands Beach Getaway” excursion in St. Thomas.
We were booked on the Disney Fantasy on a 7 Night Eastern Caribbean cruise, and had done extensive research to select our excursions. Our checklist for St. Thomas included turquoise water, white sands, and shopping! Whatever we chose also had to be relaxing since the previous day had included a strenuous itinerary. We checked out information on Magen’s Bay since it is extremely popular, but it was a five hour excursion and we wanted enough time to hit the duty-free shopping and not be rushed to get back for dinner. I came across “Secret Sands Beach Getaway” and wasn’t overly impressed with the description, but it had a beach, guaranteed us a beach chair, and it was only two and a half hours so we would have the second half of the day to ourselves. It was also very reasonably priced at $46 per adult and $30 per child as far as excursions are concerned. Sign me up!
Fast forward to October and we headed off the ship to our day in paradise! We boarded an open air bus with about twenty other guests and had fantastic views along the thirty minute drive to our destination… so I saw later in my pictures. I don’t handle the windy roads, narrow lanes, and steep cliffs that many tropical destinations have, so I faced the inside of the bus and snapped pictures over my shoulder. We arrived at Secret Sands at Smith Bay Beach Park and Eco Reserve (formerly known as Lindquist Beach) and were ready for some sun and relaxation, but first had to get some information from our guide, Saleem.
He showed us where the newly built (and incredibly clean) bathrooms were located and then brought us over to a little grove of palm trees near the water. He told us that there are enough beach chairs for everyone, don’t swim past the buoy, and here was where the unexpected surprise came in that completely blew our minds!
He told us that he had snorkel gear for children and adults, sand toys, pool noodles, floats, and flippers for everyone to use. He also had coolers filled with water, soda, and beer and said he would be making “adult mixed drinks” for anyone that wanted. At this point I’m looking around at all my fellow guests and I can tell we are all thinking the same thing: “OK Saleem, how much?” It was ALL INCLUDED!!! His only request was that if we felt this experience exceeded our expectations, to consider leaving him a tip to show our appreciation.
We snorkeled with fish, had some drinks, explored the most beautiful beach I had ever stepped foot on, had some more drinks, and before we knew it Saleem was giving us the 10 Minute Warning (which he told us in “Island Time” really meant 20 minutes). We all gathered our things, said good-bye to Saleem, took a drink to go, and boarded the bus. The group made one more stop at a scenic overlook where we were able to snag some great photos overlooking St. Thomas including a great view of the Fantasy and a man with a Donkey wearing sunglasses (I don’t joke about animals wearing protective eyewear; check the pictures). Then we headed back to the dock where we were let off.
I could not have asked for a better day in St. Thomas, and have been recommending this excursion to anyone and everyone that will listen! We had an amazing day in paradise and did so much more than just check items off our St. Thomas list! I’m so glad that I took a chance on a relaxing beach trip that turned out to be an amazing day my family and I will never forget!
If you are interested in a Disney Cruise or more information regarding the Secret Sands Beach Getaway, please feel free to send me an email at Nicole@wishesfamilytravel.com or find me on Facebook!
By: Corrie Krpejs
August 10, 2017
Taking a trip to Walt Disney World can be exhausting! If spending more than 4 days at the parks, I usually recommend scheduling a day off. This gives your Family a chance to regroup! Most of these only require you to check your Resort Recreation and Activities Schedule.
Here are my top 10 things to do at your Resort.
1. Outdoor Movies – Spend an evening under the stars watching your favorite Disney movies!
2. Roast marshmallows – Check to see if your Resort offers this! Everything is provided for you, just bring your appetite.
3. Play at the Arcade-Located at most Disney Resorts, just purchase a game card and challenge your family to some fun.
4. Enjoy a Pool Day- There are some amazing pools at Walt Disney World Resorts. The pool can even be a major consideration for some when choosing their Resort.
5. Search for Hidden Mickeys- A Hidden Mickey is a silhouette (usually in the tri-circle Mickey shape) or side profile of Mickey Mouse. Disney Imagineers hid these all over the Parks, Resorts and Restaurants. You can find printable lists or even purchase books that give you hints and let you keep track of the ones you find.
6. Resort Activities- Check your Resort’s Recreation Schedule. You can find things from creating your own tie-dye shirt to dance parties. Even cookie decorating! There may be a small charge for some activities.
7. Enjoy your Resorts Restaurants-There are some wonderful Restaurants located at Walt Disney World Resorts. Take advantage of the dining at your Resort or enjoy a Quick Service meal by the pool!
8. Relax- Being at Walt Disney World usually means that you are up early and out all day. Sleep-in and put your feet up for the day.
9. Take photos- The theming at Walt Disney World Resorts allows for some great photo opportunities. From larger than life characters to wild animals.
10. Rentals- There are multiple Resorts that allow you to rent bikes, take a carriage ride, or even rent a boat. Helmets and child seats are complimentary! Try a Surrey Bike. You can fit up to 6 people so everyone gets a chance to help pedal. It’s a great way to have some fun and also take in the beauty of your resort.
Want to find out more about all that Walt Disney World Resorts have to offer? Contact Corrie today!
By: Becky Mullinax
August 8, 2017
In 2016, My husband retired from his work of 40 years- so we did what any normal couple would do, and planned a trip to Walt Disney World!
I chose for us to stay at Disney’s All Star Movies Resort in a preferred room; a new experience for me, as I had always stayed on Disney property in either a moderate or deluxe resort. Of course, all Disney’s resorts are great no matter where you stay, but I wanted to experience one of the All Star’s. I had heard some bad reviews about the All Star resorts: small, noisy rooms and long bus waits do not a good vacation make.
When we arrived, however, we were met with a red carpet and a welcoming smile. As I entered in the lobby the smell was heavenly! Each time I entered the lobby that week the smell was different, changing from popcorn to candy and beyond. The front desk Cast Members went out of their way to make sure our check in went smoothly. As I had already completed the online check in, I was able to skip the lines at the front desk, and go straight into the food court.
I received a text that our room was ready in the 101 Dalmatian section. I immediately felt very welcomed and cozy as we entered our room! The room décor was all 101 Dalmatian’s and very clean and fresh.
The room location was perfect because we were close to the pools, food court, lobby and the bus transportation. Each time we entered the lobby we were welcomed with our red carpet and movie star atmosphere. My favorite little aspect of the resort was the movie set up where you could take pictures with props and a background!
At nighttime, the main building welcomes you back to the resort with “ALL STAR RESORT” illuminated in front of the building.
The World Premiere Food Court looked like a movie theater, and had a variety of things to choose from for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. We chose the quick service dining plan and always found something delicious to eat. It’s always nice to enjoy a good meal after a long day in the parks!
I absolutely loved the Fantasia themed main pool. There’s also a duck pond themed “quiet” pool that is always heated and pleasant. To me, the pools are always my favorite parts of the resort.
My husband in particular enjoyed all the movie memorabilia at the resort located in Cinema Hall. It’s gift shop had plenty of souvenirs, snacks, etc. to choose from. We decided there to get my one year old a small Stitch plush and he loved it!
The All-Star resorts certainly have no shortage of activities. Each night there was “Movies Under the Stars” at The Reel Spot, where people would gather and watch a different movie each night. There was also a jogging trail that provided guests with a good place to run. For kids, there was also a playground located near the Fantasia section. We even played arcade games at the Reel Fun Arcade in Cinema Hall- from air hockey to pinball, there’s definitely something there for everyone to enjoy.
The most charming aspect about All Star resorts are the clever themes and architecture. The sections were themed after Disney movies Fantasia, Mighty Ducks, Toy Story, Love Bug and 101 Dalmatians. With all of this in mind, we thoroughly enjoyed our retirement vacation at Disney’s All Star Movies and will return there again.