First off, thank you to the several sweet people that overheard me speaking in Disney and told me how much they liked or how cute my accent was. There are A LOT of people from the north at Disney and they get a kick out of "Southern Accents." I never realize how strong it us until I'm around other people. Just wait till I do my first vlog, you'll understand.
- First and foremost: sweet tea is difficult and almost IMPOSSIBLE to find in Disney. I know, you're SHOCKED. They may be in Florida, but it ain't the south. I bet they have it at McDonalds, but we didn't hit one of those (surprisingly) while there.
- We stayed at The Contemporary and loved everything about it. Easy to get to the parks and all is new and modern. The TV channels are pretty bad - guess they want you to get out and spend money in the parks.
- If you stay at a Disney Resort hotel, they offer refillable mugs for $12.99. You can fill this mug up as many times as you want while you're there. If you're a coffee drinker, this is HUGE. Hubs has to have at least 3-4 cups each morning (and he's picky about his coffee) so he would head down in his PJ pants and t-shirt and fill it up and come back to the room to read the paper and go back down when he needed a refill. By the time I woke up, we could switch over to Diet Coke refills for my morning kick. And by the way, he said the coffee there was awesome (I hate coffee, so don't ask me).
- If you're concerned that a ride may be too scary for your child, look it up on http://www.youtube.com/ - they have pretty much all of the Disney rides on there, taped from someone that is actually riding it. The little man wanted to ride the Everest roller-coaster and I convinced him that it was too much for him, but when we got back to the hotel, I showed it to him online and he concurred - it was scary - but now he still feels like he got to experience it.
- We weren't too into the pics with characters, autographs, character dining or anything. I think this is probably bigger with the girls because of the princess factor. The little guy only wanted to meet the Power Rangers. The lines are long, so be ready to wait if you want a picture with a character. We were satisfied to just wave at them from a distance. I did want to eat at Chef Mickey's but could never get a reservation. I didn't call until 30 days before, so missed out. I called every day while we were there (because it is in the hotel) but they said nothing was available. I found out from another guest on the last night that although they tell you not to show up as a standby, he had gotten in three times throughout his Disney visits just by showing up and taking a no-show's spot.
- If you need to know something, just ask. Everyone at Disney is so helpful and will go out of their way to answer your question. I think this is one of the things that makes it so magical.
- The first thing you do when you walk into a park is go to one of the stands with the map and the daily schedule. That daily schedule is your resource for parade times, character meet and greets, show times and anything specific to that day. Every park has one and they are extremely useful because it's pretty much the only place you'll find the most current info on what's happening at each park that day.
- I didn't believe it - but you really can take pretty much any kind of food and non-alcoholic drinks into Disney. They check your bags, but we brought sandwiches, juice boxes, the refillable mug (can't refill at the park, but fill it up before you go and save a couple bucks), granola bars, goldfish and they didn't say anything.
- Pin trading - it's a big deal down there and there are hundreds if not thousands of these things in the shops. It's fun for kids and adults, but it ain't cheap. My twelve-year-old nephew really got into it and came back with some really neat pins. You are supposed to represent your experiences at Disney with the pins, so you can look back at them and remember things you did and add on each visit. Some of the pins are so beautiful and they have one for just about anything you can think of. Remember my neighbors that are the big Red Sox fans? I brought them back one of Mickey playing Baseball in a Red Sox jersey for checking our mail and feeding the cat.
- Disney photographers are around the main photo spots and will take your picture for you. Ask your first photographer for a card and he will hand you a Disney Photo Pass card that will hold your ID for your pictures. Just hand this card to any Disney photographer in any park and they will scan it and then you can login online to see your pics. It's about the only way I was able to get myself in some of the pics.
The number one thing you need to remember about Disney is you can't do it all - and don't try to. You will be EXHAUSTED, GRUMPY and SORE if you try to. Your kids will be TIRED, WHINEY and OVERSTIMULATED if you try to.
Spend a half day at Disney, go back to the pool, hang out and if you want to catch some of the lights, fireworks and parades, go back around 7:30 or 8:00. And also, focus on everything you are getting to do instead of everything you didn't get to fit in while at Disney.