You're going to Disney World! Now what??

Planning a Walt Disney World vacation can be extremely overwhelming, especially if you haven’t visited in a long time. Gone are the days of simply showing up and hoping for the best. These days, the savvy Disney-goer has booked dining reservations six months in advance and chosen specific days and times to FastPass favorite rides well before arriving on Disney property.

What should I take into the parks?

After visiting Disney many times, I've figured out exactly what I need to bring with me into the parks. I'd love to be one of those people who don't carry bags around Disney, thus skipping the inevitably long bag-check security line at the park entrances, but it's just not practical for our family.

Magic Bands

Our FastPass+ tips and tricks

FastPasses have certainly changed over the last ten years or so. Those of us who have been visiting Disney for a long time remember the days before the Fast Pass even existed. If a park was crowded, you’d just have to stand in line for the attractions you wanted to enjoy. Other than trying to enter the parks right at opening, there wasn’t much you could do. With the growing popularity of the parks, guest satisfaction began to decrease after people realized they were spending too much of their vacation waiting in line rather than enjoying the attractions.

A quick anniversary getaway!

Last month my husband and I had the rare opportunity to go away on our own to celebrate our 13th anniversary. It's the first time we've ever been away from both our children overnight since my oldest son was born. He's almost 9. So where did we end up going? 

You guessed it.

Have you tried these Walt Disney World snacks?

One of our favorite things about Walt Disney World is the food. We love reading about the restaurants and fun offerings throughout the parks and resorts. And one of the most fun things to get excited about is snacks! Here are a few of our favorites:

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Starring Rolls Cafe

UPDATE: Sadly, this snack location has closed.

Location: Disney's Hollywood Studios
Cuisine: Snacks
Experience:  Quick grab-and-go bakery with lots of goodies
Our rating: Don't come in here hungry, or you'll buy one of everything!

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

We've gone to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party a couple times now, and I can honestly say it is one of the most fun events at Disney World and well worth the extra money. 

So what exactly is the big deal, you may wonder? Why would someone pay even more money for a party ticket on top of regular admission to the Magic Kingdom? Well I'll tell you.

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Be Our Guest Restaurant

Location: The Magic Kingdom
Cuisine: American, French
Experience:  Quick-service breakfast or lunch, sit-down dinner, all served inside the enchanted castle from Beauty and the Beast.
Our rating: It's worth a shot.

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Boma - Flavors of Africa

Location: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Cuisine: African buffet
Experience:  Family-friendly dining for breakfast or dinner, served under thatched roofs for a uniquely African atmosphere.
Our rating: Don't miss it!

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria

Location: Italy Pavilion inside Epcot
Cuisine: Authentic Italian
Experience:  Casual and cozy with wood-burning pizza ovens
Our rating: Don't miss it!

Once we tried Via Napoli, we were hooked.

We now find ourselves eating at this restaurant, which is inside the Italy Pavilion at Epcot, multiple times each trip. While the menu features everything you'd expect from a good Italian place, we rarely stray from our favorite: the pizza.

Suck it up, Princess: Disney's Princess Half Marathon 2012

I titled this post after a fantastic tshirt I saw someone wearing during the Disney Princess Half Marathon. It was around Mile 6 or so, and I came upon her with those words printed on the back of her shirt: "Suck it up, Princess."

It was just the motivation I needed during that mid-race slump I felt myself falling into. So, I sucked it up and finished.

WDW trip review: September 2014

It's been a very long year and 8 months since our last trip, and we've been counting down since we booked this vacation in early spring! The baby had only just turned a year old the last time we were here, so now that he's 2-and-three-quarters, he has a much greater appreciation of everything.

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Beaches & Cream Soda Shop

Location: Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Cuisine: American
Experience:  Casual and fun 1950s inspired soda shop
Our rating: It’s worth a shot.

When I think of Beaches & Cream, I think of overindulgence. Maybe it’s because they offer a dessert called The Kitchen Sink that is possibly the biggest dessert in the universe (they even turn down the lights and make a big deal of bringing it to the table). Maybe it’s because they have all kinds of refreshingly un-fancy and delicious diner food. Or maybe it’s because there I once devoured an entire foot-long hot dog and French fries without a second thought... and also an embarrassingly-giant ice cream sundae drenched in drippy, mouth-watering peanut butter and chocolate called the No Way Jose. Mmmmm....

Taking a young toddler to Disney (no, you are not crazy)

**Since this post was first written, we have had another child and taken him to WDW as an infant AND as a toddler. Both experiences were fantastic!**

Many, many people thought we were a little crazy for taking our son to Disney World for his 2nd birthday.

If we’re completely honest with ourselves we’ll admit that it was more for us than for him; after all, we hadn’t visited WDW since I was pregnant. Going 2+ years sans WDW trip is a really long time for us. And we probably would have gone sooner if not for all the people telling us not to.

Then we realized that it’s our family and our money and our vacation and we can go where-ever we like. Which is, of course, Disney World. So we booked a vacation for early September 2008, just before our boy turned two years old.


Location: Mexico Pavilion at Epcot
Cuisine: Mexican
Experience: Good food in a gorgeous dining-under-the-stars setting.
Our rating: Don’t miss it!

The Mexico pavilion at Epcot
The San Angel Inn is located inside the Mexico pavilion at Epcot, and it’s breathtaking. This is one of the things Disney does best – the art of the unexpected delight.

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Tutto Italia Ristorante

Location: Italy Pavilion in Epcot
Cuisine: Italian
Experience: Casual dining that feels fancy (in a good way)
Our rating: It's worth a shot.

We love Italian food and were happy with Tutto Italia. The food was amazing; I got ravioli and my son got traditional spaghetti and meatballs. The staff was attentive and the atmosphere was very pleasant. It was charming, with murals of ancient Rome, glowing chandeliers, and white tablecloths.


Location: Polynesian Village Resort
Cuisine: American with “Asian zest”
Experience: Open, lively restaurant on the 2nd floor of the Polynesian. 
Our rating: It's worth a shot

We visited this place first for breakfast, then hopped on the monorail and went into the Magic Kingdom. It was a great start to the day! We enjoyed the atmosphere of eating inside the Polynesian (such a beautiful resort!). Kona Cafe is an open yet cozy restaurant on the 2nd floor.


Location: Magic Kingdom
Cuisine: American
Experience: Character dining, buffet
Our rating: If you have kids, don't miss it!

Crystal Palace gets mixed reviews, and I’m not really sure why. We really enjoy this place. It’s located at the end of Main Street with a full-on view of Cinderella Castle. The food is an all-you-can-eat buffet (what’s not to like about that?), and the Winnie the Pooh characters are there (Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore).

And really, can you beat this view???