What is the Fastpass System?

I have touched on the fastpass system in a previous post, but today I want to go a little in depth. It amazes me how many times I’ll be talking about fastpasses and people literally have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m not just talking about people who are not familiar with Disney, but people who have been 2-3 times! It’s baffling. So I want to share with all of you everything I know about the fastpass system.

Standby-Fastpass

First, what is a fastpass? A fastpass is a ticket that gets you ahead of the standby lines in the Disney parks. You use to have to go to kiosks throughout the park and scan your park ticket and the kiosk would spit out a ticket with whatever time that you chose so you could come back to ride the ride at that time. Now Disney has taken the fastpass system digital, so you get these nifty things called Magic Bands and you can make fastpass reservations from your mydisneyexperience account. Fastpass lines are generally much shorter than the standby lines.

Hollywood-Studios-Gray-Magic-Band-Scan-Entrance-3-620x330

Next, if you are staying on Disney property, you are able to make your fastpass reservations 60 days prior to your visit. If you are staying off property, you can make your reservations 30 days prior. This is one of the reasons I mentioned in my last post that I like to always stay on site. If you’re making your reservations at 30 days rather than 60, it is likely that all of those hard-to-get fastpasses such as Flight of Passage and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will be taken.

You are able to make three fastpass reservations per day prior to your trip. I always suggest making your fastpass reservations between 11a.m. and 2p.m. because after your use your third fastpass, you are able to log into your mydisneyexperience and make one more reservations. Pro tip: As soon as you scan your third fastpass, jump onto the app and make another reservation before you ever even get on the ride. I would try to make the reservation for as close of a time as you can so that when you go to that next ride, you can make another reservation as soon as you scan your band. I have gotten as many as 11 fastpasses in one day! I average about nine.

The last thing I have to say about fastpasses is to keep checking. All the time. Because Disney likes to throw extra fastpasses up randomly. So even if you are staying off site and you couldn’t snag one of those hard-to-get fastpasses, keep checking daily and you may see it posted.

Advertisements

Disney Lodging: On or Off Site?

37010274-walt-disney-world-garcia

Now that you’ve decided when to go to Walt Disney World, it’s time to choose a hotel to stay in. You have the option of staying onsite or offsite, and each have their perks and disadvantages.

Staying onsite is absolutely magical. It puts you directly in the Disney Bubble and you can forget the outside world exists. The service that you receive at a Disney resort is amazing and you are close to all of the parks and can take a bus, ferry, or can even walk to some areas! Also, if you stay onsite you have the option of choosing your fastpasses 60 days in advance.

The downside of staying on property? The price. The cheapest hotels at Disney, which are referred to as “value hotels” are comprised of the All Star Sports Resort, the All Star Movies Resort, the All Star Music Resort, Art of Animation, and Pop Century. Art of Animation and Pop Century tend to run a little more expensive than the All Star Resorts, depending on the time of year because those are the hotels that are in higher demand during peak seasons. The typical nightly price for one of the All Star Resorts is usually around $120. Of course these prices tend to double during their peak seasons such as summer months and holidays. These resorts are great if you have children, as they are very Disney-themed. If you want to be completely submerged into Disney, I suggest Pop Century or All Star Movies. They are a great way to feel like a child again. The only downside of value resorts is that they are targeted to children, and there are a LOT of children staying at these resorts. Meaning it is often really loud and the pools are generally crowded.

All-Star-Music

When we go, we prefer to stay at a moderate resort, which are comprised of Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach Resort, Port Orleans Riverside, and Port Orleans French Quarter. These resorts are more expensive, less Disney themed, and a lot quieter than the value resorts. To us, paying a little more for more privacy is worth it. When my boyfriend and I went to Disney this past May, we decided to stay in Coronado Springs. We paid about $200/night, but we felt that it was a good value because we never heard any noise, there are a lot of bus stops so we never worried about crowded buses, and we also ended up with a pool all to ourselves.

Disney's_Coronado_Springs_Resort

The last set of Disney resorts are the deluxe resorts which include The Contemporary Resort, Yacht Club, Polynesian, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, Boardwalk, The Grand Floridian, and Beach Club. I have never stayed in a deluxe resort because they are all wayyyy out of my price range, but I always go explore them when I visit Disney. The Polynesian is my dream resort.

pol093284029fi

The perks of staying offsite are that you do not have to pay for parking at the hotel. This past March Disney started charging $20/night for parking. This could be a tradeoff as you will not have access to the buses so you will have to pay for parking at the parks, which is $25/day. Another perk of staying offsite is that rooms are A LOT cheaper. You can easily find a decent hotel for $60/night or can even rent an entire house for $100/night. If you are traveling with a lot of friends or family, this could be a more economical choice. Another downside, however, is that you do not have access to extra magic hours and you will not be able to choose your fastpasses until 30 days out instead of 60. This could mean that you miss out on those hard-to-get fastpasses such as Flight of Passage and Slinky Dog Dash.

If you have any questions about Disney lodging or if I missed a bit of information that you are curious about, feel free to leave me a comment and I’d be happy to answer your questions!

Planning Your WDW Vacation

walt-disney-world-six-parks-uk-video-loop

So you’ve decided to go to Disney World. You’re excited, you’re nervous about how much money you’re about to spend and you’re scared something is going to go wrong. You have so many doubts, and you have no idea where to begin. It may seem like a lot, but as long as you break things down into parts you can plan a stress-free, memorable trip.

The first thing I recommend, (and this may seem like a no brainer), is to choose when you want to go. Your first thought is usually, “When and how long can I take off work?,” and “Should I pull my kids out of school or wait until summer?”. Well, I’ll tell you right now: June through August are pure hell in the parks. That is when the parks are at their highest capacity and it’s hotter than satan’s armpit. Holidays are also miserable. While the decorations are wonderful, the crowds are overwhelming. Also, during Halloween and Christmas Magic Kingdom closes early for special ticketed events (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party), which you do have to pay extra money for.

I recommend going either during the last two weeks of September, the first two weeks of October, the last two weeks of January, and the first two weeks of February. The weather in September and October is the only downside of going during those months as it is hurricane season and may rain quite a bit. Early February is my favorite time to go because the weather is nice and cool and the crowds are a lot lower.

My second recommendation is to check around for discounted tickets. Often you can find tickets for a lot cheaper than Disney on certified websites such as Undercover Tourist. You can usually find tickets that are $15 to $20 off and a lot of the time you can get an extra free day or two when you buy tickets through UT. Another factor to consider are annual passes. If your trip is going to last more than six days, it may be cheaper to opt for an annual pass rather than individual tickets. Annual passholders also get perks such as free parking at the parks (which is $25 per day) and also discounts on merchandise and some restaurants.

 

In my next post I will talk more about choosing the hotel that is right for your vacation. Stay tuned!

Best Restaurants at Disney World

Those of you who have been to Disney know that Disney dining is one of the best experiences you can have. The experiences are split into two categories: Quick Service and Table Service. Today I will be listing the best restaurants I have eaten at Disney.

1. Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge

DiGeNweU0AAbVBP

The filet mignon at Jiko is seriously the best steak I have ever had in my life. And I don’t even like steak. I was literally able to cut this with a spoon. (Don’t ask my why I used a spoon.)

35350060_10216399604281194_4189863755435212800_n

The Taste of Africa can also be found at Jiko. It is one of my favorite things at Disney! Naan bread with multiple African dipping sauces. It is truly delicious.

2. Ohana at the Polynesian

Dinner-at-Ohana-at-Walt-Disney-World-Polynesean-Resort

Ohana is a family-style dinner at Disney’s Polynesian resort. This dinner features lo mein, pork dumplings, sweet n sour chicken, steak skewers, shrimp, and stir fried veggies. As I said before, it is served family-style, so you will share the meal with your entire party. Breakfast at Ohana is a character meet, so Lilo and Stitch will come around to your table. I have never personally experienced Ohana breakfast, but I have heard great things about it!

3. D-Luxe Burger at Disney Springs

DSdluxe

If you’re in the mood for a good burger, jump over to The Springs for one of the biggest, most delicious burgers you will ever experience. The milkshakes are good too (;

Those are my three favorite dining experiences at Disney World. What are your favorite places to eat at Disney??

 

Drinking Around the World

One of the most fun things to do at Disney as an adult is the Drinking Around the World Challenge. You can do this leisurely with your best friend or you can go full on competition with a group of your friends. People get really pumped about this and is one of the most fun things to do in Epcot. If you’re not into partaking in alcoholic beverages, you could always try your hand at Eating Around the World.

worldshowcasemap

What is the challenge, exactly? Well, it’s pretty simple. Epcot’s World Showcase is comprised of 11 countries that house food and drinks from that specific country. The people who work in each pavilion are natives of the country they are representing. The challenge is that you start at either Mexico or Canada and drink one beverage from each country. It’s a lot harder than it looks! Especially in the summer.

I do not recommend this challenge in the summer months as the sun is hot and the humidity is brutal. When I went to Disney this past May, I attempted this and ended up not feeling well because the sun was taking its toll on me. Florida’s cooler months (November through April) are the best times to attempt this challenge.

I have compiled a list of my favorite drinks from each country. If you ever get a chance to spend a day in Epcot, I recommend this challenge. I always have an absolute blast! Just keep in mind that it WILL be 11 drinks. I recommend starting pretty early in the day and spacing out your drinks over the course of 7 or 8 hours. Ride all of the rides you want to in the morning and then start the challenge at around noon. If you get visibly too drunk, you can get banned from Disney. I always like to grab a drink, and then sip it as I explore each pavilion. There are children around, so keep it classy!

One more recommendation: Start your day in Mexico and end your challenge in Canada to avoid the most crowds. Also, drink A LOT of water!

1. Mexico: Cucumber Margarita – $15

jalapeno-marg-catherine-v1

The cucumber margarita from La Cava del Tequila in the Mexico pavilion is absolutely delicious. I am a huge fan of all things cucumber and this is extremely refreshing on a warm day. This drink is comprised of Tequila Altos Reposado, Mezcal Gracias a Dios Espadin Blanco, caramelized pineapple juice, basil and cucumber served on the rocks with a Tajín chili powder rim.

2. Norway: Aass Pilsner – $8.25

norway_frozen_epcot_update-14

Pronounced “Ouse”, this pilsner is a light, tasty beer for a warm day. You can find this at the Norway Beer Cart.

3. China: Baijoe Punch – $10.50

epcot_china_pavilion_update-6

Made with Chinese Bai jiu spirit, Lychee, coconut, and pineapple. This drink is refreshing and delicious until the last few sips. The coconut and pineapple give it a soft, sweetness and then it gets really spicy. You can find this at the Joy of Tea kiosk in China.

4. Germany: Bärenjäger Honey & Bourbon – $10.25

germany-beer-cart-barenjager-honey-and-bourbon

I absolutely love bourbon. Throw honey into the mix, and you’re in heaven. If you’re a bourbon fan, I suggest trying the Bärenjäger Honey & Bourbon which can be found at the Biergarten Restaurant in the Germany pavilion.

5. Italy: Peach Bellini – $10

ouyjasdgasn264

This prosecco and peach puree concoction can be found at the Italy kiosk. There isn’t a lot of alcohol in this one, but this is my absolute favorite thing to get in the World Showcase. 100/10 would recommend.

6. United States: Frozen Red Stag Lemonade – $12.25

red_stag_lemonade_fife_drum_tavern

This delicious black cherry bourbon lemonade can be found at Fife and Drum Tavern in the United States pavilion.

7. Japan: Tokyo Sunset – $8

tumblr_nlzkwqAM0A1upmowqo1_500

I’m not usually one for fruity drinks because they are generally entirely too sweet, but Disney has a funny way of making me question everything I thought I knew about myself and this one was delicious. It is coconut rum, peach schnapps, banana liqueur, and pineapple juice. You can’t really taste the alcohol, which can make these bad boys dangerous. This one can be found at The Outdoor Sake Bar in Japan pavilion.

8. Morocco: Tangier’s Breeze – $10

Best-Things-to-Eat-at-WDW-15

The Tangier’s Breeze can be found at Spice Road Table in Morocco. It is made up of peach vodka, midori, and pineapple juice. Anything with pineapple juice is delicious.

9. France: The Grand Marnier Slush

grand-marnier-slush

This yummy drink is made up of Grand Marnier, rum, Grey Goose, and orange juice. You can find it at Les Vins des Chefs de France kiosk in the France pavilion.

10. United Kingdom: EVERYTHING!

Okay, ya’ll. This is where I do a lot of my drinking. The Rose and Crown Pub is my favorite place to drink in the World Showcase. They have soooo many good drinks here. I will list my top three favorites.

  1. Magical Star Cocktail – $12.50

838f33c775f3b3ee6bcda89498288f30

This drink is X-Fusion Mango and Passion Fruit Liqueur, Parrot Bay Coconut Rum, pineapple juice, and a souvenir glow cube.

2. Bumblebee Imperial Pint – $9.75

6084d1bac40c844a84023a2b34eadf49--disney-drinks-disney-food

This beer is a blend of Boddingtons and Guinness. It is probably one of the best beers I have ever tasted in my life.

3. Leaping Leprechaun – $16.75

Leaping-Lep2

The Leaping Leprechaun is one of my favorite drinks in all of Disney. It is Don Q Cristal Rum, Skyy Vodka, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Melon Liqueur, and sweet-and-sour topped with Sprite. If you want it in a souvenir cup, you will pay a whopping $16.75.

11. Canada: Ottawa Apple – $12

40272238_2183571808566216_1940047331554561010_n

The Ottawa Apple is a well-known drink in the US, but is still something to experience in the Canada pavilion as there aren’t many other options for Canada. Crown Royal Maple Whisky, apple infusion and cranberry juice make up this sweet drink and it can be found at the Popcorn stand.

There you have it! These are all of my favorite drinks in the World Showcase. Drinking Around the World is fun, but very expensive! Don’t push yourself to finish if you start to feel sick. Going to Disney is not cheap and you don’t want to ruin your day by drinking past a point of comfort.

Disney Isn’t as Miserable as It Seems

When I talk to my friends and family about Disney, the one topic that is always brought up about someone’s dislike for the parks are the lines. The lines are definitely dreadful and can make for a horrible trip. I constantly hear people talk about their horror stories from Disney and how crowded things were and how they had to wait in lines for more than an hour.

The truth is, yes. Disney is crowded. Sometimes you will be waiting in lines. But if you’re smart about it, you will never wait for more than 30 minutes. Follow these tips and you will save yourself a big headache and if you have children, you will save a few temper tantrums.

#1 Get up early

Vacations are for sleeping in, right? Normally, yes. But if you choose to vacation at Disney, you need to be up bright and early. If you open the parks, you can take advantage of all the big rides such as Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Soarin, Flight of Passage, etc. I went this past May and showed up to the parks an hour early. They usually open the doors 15-20 minutes before the listed opening. You can head straight to your favorite ride and literally walk right on. If you show up later, you will be dealing with a lot of crowds as a lot of people like to sleep in.

#2 Utilize the fastpass system

If you stay in one of Disney’s resorts, you can choose your fastpasses 60 days before your arrival date. You can choose three fastpasses per day in advance. After you use all three of your fastpasses, you can get on the mydisneyexperience app and choose one more. After you use that one, you can do the same thing again. My advice is to choose all of your advanced fastpasses between the times of 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. as that tends to be the busiest time of the day. After you use your third fastpass, I would sign on and look through and see what others are available. This ensures that you never have to wait more than 30 minutes in a line and also helps you try a ride that you never thought you’d go on otherwise.

#3 Take a break

If you have little ones, take a midday break. As I said before, the middle of the day is the busiest. Go back to your resort and take a nap. The crowds are lowest at the very beginning of the day and at the very end of the day.

#4 Do rides during parades and fireworks

People love to watch parades and fireworks. This is your opportunity to go to your favorite rides with little to no wait. Parades captivate crowds, but the fireworks are what really clear out the lines. If you’re not super into the firework shows, I suggest skipping them and getting your thrills on your favorite rides.

#5 Take advantage of extra magic hours

If you stay in a Disney resort, every day a park has extra magic hours. You can get in either an hour earlier or stay an hour later. Only those who stay on Disney property can utilize this perk. This hour without large crowds can easily get you on four or five of your favorite rides. I went to Animal Kingdoms extra magic hours and rode Flight of Passage twice in a row!

These are my tips to ensuring a crowd-free Disney experience. Do you do any of these when you go? What seems to be most effective for you? Let me know in the comments!

The Top 5 Best Snacks at Disney

Food is one of my favorite things. I love talking about it, I love eating (obviously), and I love trying new things. Disney World has some of the best snack options imaginable and I always end up eating soooo much when I’m there, whether I’m hungry or not! I have compiled a list of my top 5 favorite snacks around the parks.

#5 Rum Blossom

night-blossom-slushie-pongu-pongu
The Rum Blossom is Bacardi Superior Rum with layers of Apple and Desert Pear Limeade topped with Passion Fruit Boba Balls. It can be found at Pongu Pongu in Pandora at Animal Kingdom. It is very sweet. The boba balls bursting in your mouth are the absolute best part! You know, other than the booze. It’s so good, but I would recommend sharing it with another person. Not even halfway through, I was done. If you’re one for sweets, this is right up your alley.

#4 Mickey Pretzel with Cheese

23578782923_c999ff06e5_b

Giant pretzels with cheese. What more could you want?? You can find these beauties in every Disney park. They are warm, salty, and soft. The cheese sauce makes these things irresistible. I get one every time I go to Hollywood Studios. It’s almost a ritual at this point. If you’re a big fan of bread like I am, I recommend these 100%.

#3 School Bread

2_School Bread_Slide_edit

School Bread is a sweet bread roll with custard filling, topped with icing and toasted coconut. This delicious treat can be found at Kringla Bakeri og Cafe in the Norway pavilion at Epcot. I was very pleasantly surprised the first time I ever tried this, as I thought it would be very sweet. My boyfriend is a lover of sweets and was not a fan of the School Bread. I, on the other hand, thought it was brilliant.

#2 Mac and Cheese Hot Dog

Mac-and-Cheese-Hot-Dog_Caseys-Corner_10.79_03

The mac and cheese hot dog from Casey’s Corner at Magic Kingdom is the perfect lunch item when you’ve been trecking through the crowds all morning. This mac and cheese and bacon covered dog is only available at certain times throughout the year, as it is a part of Casey’s rotating menu. If you’re ever at the Kingdom, stop in and see if you can snag one of these delicious treats.

#1 Pressed Brioche Ice Cream

ICS-8

This pressed brioche ice cream gives a new take on an ice cream sandwich. You can find this at L’Artisan des Glaces Sorbet and Ice Cream Shop at the France pavilion in Epcot. This has made my number 1 favorite snack at Disney because, as I stated earlier, I am a bread lover. The vanilla ice cream in the middle makes it the perfect snack in Florida’s every-present hot day. The warm bun compliments the cold ice cream perfectly.

If you are ever at Disney, I highly recommend these five treats! What are your must-have snacks when you go to Disney?