Diana's Disney Tips

So everyone knows we love Disney, have been several times and always say we can’t wait to get back to the MAGIC!! We love Disney so much that we are now Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members and are proud to say that Bay Lake Towers is our “Home away from Home!” Because of this several friends have asked me for information/recommendations and I’ve sent this information several times and finally decided to just add a page to my blog so the information is available to anyone who may be interested. I’ll continue to update this information as we continue our adventures.

The Allears website (http://allears.net/index.html) has tons of information on all the parks, resorts, has menus for all the restaurants (just check back since some menus change regularly), etc. You can even like them if you’re on Facebook and get updates.

There are also several Disney word apps available (if you’re into uber planning, ask Chris, I am) that you can track dining, ride wait times (love it), maps of parks, and schedules of events including parades, fireworks, and character appearances.

Also, if Disney is your thing I would highly suggest you look into getting the Disney Visa card (this is not a sales pitch). We use it for all our normal purchases throughout the year and we use the rewards we earn to pay for our park tickets and dining plan (love saving money). You also get a discount at most of the gift shops when you use the card and there is even an exclusive character meet and greet for cardholders at Epcot and you get a free printed picture.

The Disney dining web site is:
You can make reservations online from this site and manage all you’re reservations. Remember you have to book early to get the places (there are certain restaurants that sell out on the first day of availability, you can book 180 days out.
We always get the dining plan as it’s a great feature. We’re able to try several of the nicer sit down restaurants and not worry about how much it costs. Also with the snacks and quick service we’re never hungry.

Some of our favorite restaurants are:
Le Cellier – Epcot – Books up fast but try to go for lunch so it’s only one table service credit, dinner is 2 credits
Chef Mickey’s – Contemporary – Buffet is just OK but Aidan loved seeing all the characters at once
Tutto Italia – Epcot
Nine Dragons – Epcot
Kona Café – Polynesian – This is the restaurant we always have breakfast at the day we leave, the Tonga toast (my favorite) and Macadamia-Pineapple Pancakes (Chris’ favorite) are awesome and you have to try the Lilikoi Juice (fabulous)
1900 Park Fare – Grand Floridian – This is another character dining experience. We went for a late breakfast so it was a nice break from the park and it had some different characters than standard Micky/Minnie, etc.
Contempo Café – Contemporary Resort – This is a quick service which is great since there are lots of options and it’s fun to eat and watch the monorail come through the concourse overhead. Since we stay there this is usually our first meal after we check-in and before heading to the park or pool.

If you’re staying on property make sure to take advantage of the extra park hours. We usually do the early morning hours since Aidan’s still young and it’s great to get into the park, collect your first FastPass tickets and start on rides before the parks get crazy.
Depending on how long you’re staying if you have time the waterparks are a fun, relaxing break from the parks. We went to Blizzard Beach and had a blast! If you’re going in the Fall/Winter check since they close each of the waterparks down for a couple of months for refurbishments but one is always open.

Attractions we love:
Magic Kingdom – PhilharMagic, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Rail Road, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Mad Tea Party, Tomorrowland Speedway, Buzzlightyear, Astro Orbiter (Aidan loved it)

Epcot – Test Track, Soarin (get FastPass early), Mission Space (Chris and Aidan go on the Orange Track and love it, I have to sit outside and wait since I get sick), Living with the Land (this was an interesting tour including some of the greenhouses), Illuminations

Hollywood Studios – Indiana Jones, Stunt Show, Star Tours, Rockin’ Rollercoaster, Muppets Vision 3D, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania (make this your first stop when you get in the park to get a FastPass since they usually sell our for the day in the first hour or so and waits are several hours without the passes)

Animal Kingdom – Kilimanjaro Safaris (they just changed some of the parts of this so I don’t know how it is but try to do it early in the day so it’s not as hot), Kali River Rapids (awesome but you will get wet), Expedition Everest (Chris and I loved it, Aidan not so much so if you have younger kids be cautious), Nemo Show (awesome)

Also at Animal Kingdom Camp Mickey is a great character opportunity (outside the Lion King show). Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy each have their own little picture spaces which are in the woods and covered so you can cool off and relax. There are also other characters outside which is great to get lots of autographs at once. Make sure to go while the Lion King show is in progress as the lines are shorter, everyone heads right to the characters after the show lets out so you’ll wait a lot longer.

We always stay on property. The free Magical Express transportation from the airport and Disney transportation is very convenient and saves money. Our first visit we stayed at the Polynesian what was great. If you have young kids and can afford it try to stay at one of the resorts on the monorail, it’s really convenient to be able to head back the resort midday for a nap and rest at the pool to get recharged before going back to the parks.

Now that we’re DVC members we’ve been staying at Bay Lake Towers. We love it there since it’s adjacent to the Contemporary so you can use the monorail and it’s only a 5 minute walk to Magic Kingdom (very convenient after the fireworks shows when the buses/boats/monorails are clogged you’ll be back in the room in no time. We also usually get one of the One Bedroom suites so we have more space, including laundry facilities and a kitchen. We always do laundry during our trip so we’re not going home to a mess of dirty clothes.

Also, since we have the kitchen I order groceries to be delivered from http://www.gardengrocers.com/. They deliver and I’m able to get snacks and food for breakfasts (we do make breakfast in our room most mornings so it’s a little more laid back). Also since you can take your own food and beverages into the parks I buy cases of water and Gatorade so we have plenty to drink on the hot days without spending $2.50 per bottle in the parks. I just take a couple of ice packs and a small cooler bag that fits into my backpack and we’re off. Also, if you’re interested in adult beverages Garden Grocers will stop by the store and pick up beer and such so you can enjoy them in the evenings after the little one’s are in bed (love it!)
One thing I will warn you, Disney is not a place to just decide to go and wing it, there are so many people it really helps to have a plan, we’ve learned to have all our table service reservations, plan what days you want to visit what parks, and even quick service stops based on foods you like so you don’t wander around trying to figure things out (we did that our first visit and it was not fun). 

Hope you enjoy!
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