Becoming A Florida Resident Annual Passholder

Becoming A Florida Resident Annual Passholder

It was the first thing on my agenda after becoming a Florida resident – getting our Disney annual pass.
And 8 days after arriving with everything unpacked, we headed to Guest Relations at Downtown Disney to do just that.
Disney offers a great opportunity for Florida residents to take advantage of purchasing their annual passes and having the cost split into monthly payments with no additional costs or interest! What a great way to make the annual pass a little easier on the wallet!
We were anxious to get to one of the parks and enjoy a few hours of evening park hours.
I was also curious about how different it would feel to be in Disney now that we live here and can visit the parks anytime.
I have to admit there was this sense of unhurried park enjoyment!
If we didn’t get to an attraction, no big deal…we’d be back soon.
Unlike vacationing here, we didn’t need to spend the entire day in the park. Instead, we can go for a morning or evening.
We can also see every season in the parks! Halloween items are starting to pop up in the gift shops but I imagine it won’t be long before the parks are completely decorated for fall and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, which begins in September. Also beginning next month is my favorite – Epcot International Food And Wine Festival!
And with the Christmas season approaching and 2 of our 3 daughters visiting over Christmas, we will get the opportunity to accomplish another Disney goal I’ve had – spending Christmas Day in the the parks!

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Top 10 Things You Need To Do Before Your Disney Vacation

1. Make dining reservations! Yes, it’s vacation and you don’t want it to be scheduled but I’d you wait till you arrive you will have very little to choose from!
2. Pre-register through My Disney Experience. You can download the app for your smart phone or go to http://www.mydisneyexperience.com. Or both! From here you will order your Magic Bands and choose the color. If you don’t register, you’ll get a grey Magic Band when you check in to your Disney Resort.
3. Make some Fast Pass + reservations! You can reserve up to 3 a day. It’s a great way to get in the short line for popular attractions!
4. Do some walking to get your feet and legs ready for all the walking you will do. We don’t pay much attention to how much walking we do in Disney but it really adds up!
5. Wear supportive sneakers or sandals and alternate them throughout your trip to avoid blisters. If you get a blister anyway, the Band-Aid Blister strips work well.
6. Complete your Online Check In with your Disney resort. That way if it’s full at check in, you can go in the line for guests who have done the online check in and it’s a shorter line!
7. Pack light! If you’re flying, the baggage weight limit is 50 lbs. All of the Disney resorts have laundry facilities if you need to do a load of laundry while there. It’s much cheaper than the overweight baggage fee airlines charge.
8. Find out what attractions are closed due to refurbishment during your trip! There’s nothing worse than looking forward to your favorite ride only to find out when you get there that it’s closed for refurbishment!
9. Countdown to your vacation! There are many apps to countdown to your vacation but you can make your own too! We used a small dry erase board on the refrigerator and the first person up each day would change the number of days (and sometimes add some art work!)
10. Plan to take a break mid- day, especially in the summer. Go back to your resort and take a swim. You’ll feel much more refreshed afterward!

Disney Cruising

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Taking a Disney Cruise is the natural progression for those who have made a trip or two (or 17) to Walt Disney World.

In the fall I  had the opportunity to take a Disney Land and Sea vacation  and spent a couple of days in the Disney parks while staying at Disney’s Yacht Club resort and then on to Port Canaveral where I boarded  the Disney Dream for a 3 night Bahamas cruise.

Many people think Disney Cruises are just for families with children, but I traveled with adults and there was plenty for us to do including some adult only areas of the ship!

A self-serve soda station offers free soda on the pool deck.

They also have an ice cream station near the pool – a great way to cool off after swimming.

I  purchased an adult beverage in a souvenir cup for $9.99 and that cup could be refilled with the drink of the day for $4.85. I had to ask the Cast Member to repeat the refill price because I couldn’t believe there could be a drink under $5 on a cruise ship!

As we all know, Disney knows how to entertain! And the Broadway-style shows – Golden Mickey’s, The Villains, and Believe – were all excellent and I recommend you don’t miss them.

The easy access to characters on the Disney Dream was another real treat! There were character meet and greets set up on the ship and when we got off the ship at Castaway Cay, there were no lines to get pictures with Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale and Donald Duck!

A signature attraction on the Dream is the Aqua Duck, the clear-tubed water coaster with Disney’s signature drops and turns. The line for this attraction can get long but if you ride it when you board the ship or closer to dinner time, you can have it almost to yourself! Disney has rotational dining in its restaurants on the Dream. You’ll be assigned a restaurant each night and your serving staff will follow you to those restaurants. Remy and Palo are the adult only restaurants you can choose to go to but reservations are a must.

Room service was complimentary so I woke up every day to my fresh pot of coffee.  I would pour a cup and sit on the balcony and watch the sun rise and the ocean go by.  I also enjoyed the view from there watching the ship docking at the port. I don’t think there’s anything  more relaxing.

The Disney-themed kids clubs on the ship such as “Andy’s Room,” made me almost want to be a kid again. And I loved the hand-washing station where children just insert their hands and the washing (via spraying with soap and water) is done for you!

Another feature that Disney Cruises have is their fireworks show that tops off Pirate Night on the ship – another not-to-be-missed night-time spectacular. Didn’t bring any pirate-wear? No worries! Everyone gets a pirate bandana for each person in your cabin!

My only regret on this cruise was that I hadn’t cruised on a Disney Cruise sooner, and that I’d wished the cruise was longer. But taking the 3-day cruise was a great way to try a Disney Cruise and to determine  that I definitely want to take another (longer) one!

Getting My Disney Legs On (And Feet Too!)

I think it’s easier on the legs if you’re taking a Disney vacation in the fall rather than the Spring!
Why?
Because I’ve spent the winter wrapped up in a warm blanket watching TV and making excuses not to go out into the cold for that 10 minute drive to the gym. And now it’s crunch time (not to be confused with crunches time because that’s a whole different blog post!)
So as most of you who have been to Disney know, there’s a lot of walking done in a Disney vacation.
How much?
Well, our daughters took pedometers during one trip and we averaged out the miles we walked that week and it ranged between 11-14 miles a day!
I’ve heard runners say they’re still not prepared for all the walking even with all the running they do!
But I do try to get some extra walking in ahead of time so I don’t have sore leg muscles in addition to my sore feet!
The feet are a whole different problem with a stress fracture twice before, forcing me to have to wear really supportive and very expensive shoes.
I don’t like sneakers when it’s hot so that means I need to find a good pair of sandals before I go. I naturally gravitate to something flip flop-ish but dear old foot doctor thinks I need heel support!
Crocs are out of the question because they “are like having your feet in marshmallows.” (More foot doctor advice!)
I’ve previously worn Clark’s, they worked well. But now I’m looking at Keen Sandals.
Arch support, keeping my feet cool and comfortable are most important. And they at least need a strap around my heel.
So if you have any recommendations please share them!

To Fly Or Drive Down I-95

For most of my Disney trips the decision to fly or drive is an easy one….FLY!
But this year the airfare is so high (over $400 per person!) that we’ve decided to drive.
The last time we drove to Walt Disney World was 2004, right after hurricane Charlie hit Orlando. Our flight was cancelled out of Philly because the terminal in Orlando was damaged from the hurricane. And they told us we wouldn’t get on another flight for days. I looked at my husband and said, “do you know how to drive to Florida?” He said, “two roads, I-95 and I-4.”
Next thing we knew, we were in the car, driving to Walt Disney World.
We had nothing prepared for a driving trip but a stop at a Wal-Mart in Virginia fixed that.
Looking back on that trip, it was one of our most memorable ones!
This year is a little different. We are actually planning to drive so we will be more prepared with cooler, snacks, and even better technology than the last trip! Did you know there’s an I-95 Exit Guide app? It gives you details on what restaurants, hotels and gas stations are located at each exit!
Another benefit to driving is no limits on luggage! Not that I would take too much, it’s always what I want to bring back!
I’ve made advance hotel reservations for an overnight on the way down and the return trip, based on where we expect to be. And even that was easier to plan with maps that show construction locations and estimated arrival times.
While there’s not really a need for a car in Disney ( since they transport you everywhere) it will be nice to see more of Florida than the road from the airport to our Disney resort.
Driving does add 2 days to our trip but it will be our 10th anniversary celebration, so driving will make it more of an adventure!

What Would You Do With Just One Day?

What would you do if you found out you were going to Walt Disney World for just one day?
Go to just one park? Or maybe you’d be adventurous and try to get to all four!
While most people plan their Disney vacations for a week, sometimes an opportunity comes up to squeeze in just one day. For those of us who love all things Disney, we look at a trip to Florida for any reason, as an opening to fit in some Disney parks time.
It looks like I will have the opportunity to spend one day in Disney prior to sailing a 3 night Bahamas cruise on the Disney Dream this fall.
Being adventurous, I will want to visit all four parks into one day. The challenge will be narrowing down my favorite rides in each park! Fortunately, some rides have single rider lines that move faster than the regular line, and Disney’s Fast Pass allows you to pre-reserve a time to come back and get in a shorter and faster moving Fast Pass line.
I’m looking forward to this fun-filled busy day, even if I’ll spend more time planning it, than the time I will be there!

Disney Free Dining Returns for 2013!

Whether you're celebrating or not, Disney Free Dining is the way to go.

Whether you’re celebrating or not, Disney Free Dining is the way to go.


Disney Free Dining is making it’s annual return to Walt Disney World offering guests a free meal plan when they book their Disney vacation. You need to be checking in between Sept. 2 and 25th in order to take advantage of this promotion.
If you’re staying at a moderate or deluxe resort, you get the Disney Dining plan free which includes 1 table service, one quick service (counter service) meal, and one snack per person per night of stay. You will also receive the souvenir mug that can be refilled at your resort food court for free. If you’re staying at a value resort you will get the quick service dining plan free. That plan gives you 2 quick service meals per day, one snack and the refillable mug. You can upgrade to the regular dining plan for the difference in cost between the two. You can also upgrade to the deluxe dining plan the same way.
There is a 3 night minimum stay to take advantage of this promotion and it requires the purchase of at least a 2 day park pass.
Disney free dining is one of the most highly sought after promotions each year because of it’s value.

For expert assistance in planning your Walt Disney World vacation contact
Sharon Spohn, Liberty Travel Vacation Expert specializing in Disney, at 610-524-2930 or spohns@libertytravel.com.