Walt Disney World Resort Vacations #4
I am back to share with you about some things that you can do to enhance your experience in the Most Magical Place on Earth. These either require reservations, advance planning, or preparations at home for mitigating expenses and optimizing enjoyment! So take the time to read and plan accordingly so you will have the best time and enjoy your Walt Disney World Resort Vacations.
The first few years we visited Disney World, we collected autographs from the characters that we met. Before we left home, I found a Disney-themed hardcover notebook to take with us to use as our autograph book (they are sold at a premium price in stores at WDW), and a multi-color retractable pen (the thicker pens are easier for “fur” characters to grasp). I used the pages in between the autographs to journal our experiences, and more importantly, my children’s reactions to everything we experienced each day. It is such a treasure to have those memories in ink to revisit together! The autographs are fun to collect, though I found that it detracted from our character interactions (“quick, get the camera…and the video camera…and the autograph book…and the pen!”), so we have retired that Disney hobby in more recent years.
Now, we really enjoy pin trading on our Walt Disney World Resort Vacations (I do still bring a little notebook each year and journal our daily Disney adventures). Each year, before our trip my children each receive a package “from Disney World” (actually from whatever eBay seller is lucky enough to host the auction I win) with a new youth Disney lanyard and a “lot” of 25 Disney trading pins. The pins are significantly cheaper on eBay than starting a set after arriving at WDW. My children have had a fabulous time searching for pins in sets (ex: princess slipper pins) and have learned all about many Disney Cast Members (employees at Disney parks) by chatting with them during their trades. Pin Trading has been a great activity to fill down time, like waiting for a rope drop or to be called for a Table Service meal after checking in. We usually trade only with Cast Members, since the child is allowed to pick any pin from the CM’s lanyard and then the child selects which of the child’s pins to give to the CM.
Something else that is quite popular during Walt Disney World Resort Vacations is penny pressing. There are penny press machines all over Disney World. You insert 2 quarters and the penny you want to press in exchange for the penny pressed into an elongated shape emblazoned with one of hundreds of Disney designs or icons. You can find information about the various press designs here. Some tips regarding penny pressing are:
- The best pennies to use in the presses are pre-1982 (before zinc was added to the metal)
- Clean the pennies beforehand with coke or baking soda
- Put the penny in the machine with the head facing to the right
- Coins to use for the presses fit perfectly in M&M canisters
- Fill the M&M canister alternating 2 quarter, 1 penny, 2 quarters, 1 penny, ect… for easy access
- One M&M tube can hold 40 quarters and 20 pennies
- Pressed penny albums can be purchased at WDW or online
Not only is it cost-effective to start working on these collections before your trip, but it also builds the anticipation and excitement for your upcoming trip!
It’s best to book (or have your Disney planner book) the following appointments 180 days in advance. Make sure to schedule them on days that you will be visiting Magic Kingdom, and consider your daily schedule when contemplating appointment times (my advice is to start each day at rope drop and then exit the park midday at the hottest part of the day and the peak of crowds for nap and/or swim at your resort, and return early evening).
We have celebrated the “first haircut” for each of my children at Harmony Barber Shop. They do a fabulous job of entertaining the little ones and making the whole experience fun …and magical, of course! You will be sent home with a certificate and a set of Mickey ears to boot! My older girls now look forward to the colored gel and confetti (in my house, this is known as the “pixie hair makeover”) each year at the barber shop; this is a great investment of only $7.50. I make barber shop appointments for 3:15 or 3:30, and we enjoy the 3:00 parade from right outside the barber shop on Main Street beforehand. You can pay by credit card on the day of your appointment, but you will need cash if you would like to tip the barber.
Pirate’s League offers the First Mate and Empress Package, Captain’s Package, and the new Mermaid package. You can find more information about Pirate’s League here and here. If pirates are your thing, then you may also want to look into the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage as well. (Disclaimer: my girls could take or leave anything pirate-related, so I can’t speak first hand on Pirate’s League or the Voyage.)
I mentioned Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in my previous article. This is definitely a highlight of the trip for my daughters! We do the Crown Package, which includes hair, nails and makeup. We bring our own fancy dresses from home, and the Fairy Godmothers-in-Training usher my girls into an elegant princess dressing room to change before their makeover begins. The makeovers themselves are fabulous, and being granted access to the chambers of Cinderella Castle (without having to use 2 table Service credits at Cinderella’s Royal Table) is an added bonus!
The Perfectly Princess Tea Party at the Grand Floridian Resort (accessed by monorail or boat from Magic Kingdom) is another magical option for your little girls. Princess Aurora joins all the little princesses for a special gathering including tea, cakes, stories, songs, and a Princess parade. Your little princess will also receive a special “My Disney Girl” Princess Aurora doll, a princess bracelet, and a tiara. Admittedly, this is not something we have invested in; the $250 price tag is a bit steep for me!
All of these things are obviously “extras,” and you don’t need to do any of them. If money is an issue, definitely consider the “pixie hair makeovers.” I would venture to say this is the least well-known of the options listed above, therefore the results (my girls with florescent painted hair and Mickey confetti) draws the most attention (success!) afterwards as we dine and tour the rest of the day.
Don’t forget to check out all the other great advice on planning your Walt Disney World Resort Vacations.