Hi Ho! Hi Ho! It’s off to Disney we go! We are soooooo ready for our trip to Disney next week and the #DisneySMMoms Conference! I have been scouring the internet, reading books after books and poaching seasoned moms all around for those special, somewhat secret, in-the know experiences. This is my kids first time going to Disney and I am determined to make it as Magical as can be. Here are tips that I have found that I think are quite Magical indeed!
THE EXTRA SPECIAL MAGIC
- Celebrating a first at Disney? Perhaps your first time? A birthday or even an Anniversary? Let them know at Guest Relations or the concierge at your Disney Resort and you’ll get a special button to commemorate the occasion.
Riding the monorail to and from your resort? Get there early and make way all the way to the front. Ask the pilot if you and your family can “ride in the cockpit with the pilot” for an amazing view of your ride and get your co-pilot license.Unfortunately this perk has disappeared.
- When you use any Disney transportation, the driver or pilot may award you with a special transportation collector card. NOTE: Awarding these cards is at the cast member’s discretion—they are instructed to reserve them for special or magical moments, so don’t forget to wear your button!
- Got a special little princess in your life? Make sure she’s decked out in all her princess gear and throughout the day, she’ll be treated like the royalty she is. We’ve even heard that if she simply wears a shirt that reads Princess, she’ll get the royal treatment. This effect is most noticeable for the pre-school set who can’t read yet and will be simply astonished that everyone thinks she is a real life princess!
- Want to be crowned King or Queen for the Day? Visit the Sword in the Stone ceremony, held in front of Prince Charming Regal Carrousel in Fantasyland. Several times a day, Merlin challenges guests to pull the magical Excalibur sword from the stone. The “strongest” boy or girl will be crowned with a regal crown, cape, and proclamation.
- Oh my husband will be all over this. Disney has amazing golf experiences with two miniature Golf Courses called Winter Summerland, near Blizzard Beach water park and Fantasia Gardens. Ask about the “secret hole of the day” after your play—if you get a hole-in-one on the designated hole, you may get a suprise. Don’t you love surprises?!
- Want to be a part of the Disney Cast, you can get personalized Disney name badges just like Cast Members for the kids. Cast members will be coming up and saying hi all day!
- Bring some of your kids best friends (stuffed animals) to stay at your resort. While you’re away, the Mousekeepers might leave a little surprise scene for you. [verified 5/2012]
- Staying at a deluxe Disney Resort, ask for turn down service. They leave a little surprise behind as well.[verified 5/2012]
- Get to the Disney Water park early and ask to be the Big Kahuna or Ski Captain for the day. You’ll get VIP Perks like a medal to wear all day, a refillable mug, towels for the whole party, locker rental, and a shaded spot reserved just for your family. What an honor it is! Be one of the first to enter the park and don’t forget to ask!
- Bring Mickey Gloves to Character meals for special attention and a little fun by staff and castmembers. We’ve heard Goofy sometimes steals them from you, but not to worry, he does give them back!
- Ask for a table by the wall when going to a character meal and seat the children there. You’ll be able to capture a picture perfect moment when the characters stop by.
- Your little one is too little to ride their favorite attraction? Ask for a non-rider certificate, you might be surprised to see it signed by a favorite character!
- Request a wake up call from your resort. Rumor has it off-times guarantee Mickey! When they call, place it on speakerphone so everyone can hear the very cool wake up message from Mickey or one of his friends![verified 5/2012]
- Tom and Huck were in such a hurry to get to Splash Mountain, they left their paintbrushes behind on Tom Sawyer Island. If you find one, pick it up and take it to a cast member and you just might receive a pass to the front of the line at your favorite attraction. NOTE: Paintbrushes are not always left out. I am going to ask a cast member before sending my kids off on a hunt that may produce nothing.
- Find Tinker Bell at Tinker Bell’s Treasures. Be patient, she is usually flitting about the merchandise. Find the the antique chest of drawers and pay close attention to the keyhole, when you see a flash, peer in for a little surprise!
- I love visiting the Japan pavilion at Epcot but I never knew to look-out for a candy-making demonstration outside the Mitsukoshi department store. The talented artist Miyuki demonstrates “candy artistry” from Tokyo. Miyuki will invite guests to choose an animal, which she will create in just one minute. The guest who suggested the animal gets to keep the candy creation free! I’m told it’s so beautiful you won’t want to eat it!
- Kidcot Fun Stops are located at each World Showcase pavilion where kids can get masks to color and decorate with beads and paper charms— Complete a tour of all the Kidcot Fun Stops around the World Showcase and you might get another surprise!
- Similarly the Animal Kingdom has their Kids Discovery Club animal and nature discovery zones. When a child visits their first station, they are presented with a free Kids Discovery field guide filled with trivia and games. At each new station, your child will get a special stamp in the field guide and offer something fun to explore, such as fossils, animal tracks, and so on. Collect all the stickers and you’ll get a prize![verified 5/2012]
- If you’ve travelled abroad, you know how different countries have different versions of Coke. Well you can sample many of them at Club Cool in Future World in Epcot for FREE!
SOUVENIRS at a Bargain
- Make a free plastic robot souvenir at PlasticWorks in Innoventions East at Future World in Epcot.
- At Innoventions West, kids can make a free frog velcro doll and decorate it with Mickey ears, sunglasses, clothing articles and more. When finished, a cast member will attach a velcro bracelet for your wrist. This is going to go over well with my little man.
- Many restaurants at Walt Disney World serve a non-alcoholic drink for kids known as Pirate Punch. Each drink comes with a glowing Tinker Bell or Captain Hook clip-on light keepsake. The cups I’m told, themselves make great keepsakes.
- At Sesame Place we got adorable Elmo keepsake plates which have stood the test of time and the counter-service eateries at Walt Disney World have similar black Mickey plates which can be keepsakes as well.
- Got tons of kids to buy for? Perhaps classmates? A cheap but fun gift is Mickey Mouse shaped straws at the fast food counters in your resort for $.50 each. Heck, I’ll even grab a bunch to bring the magic home. Who doesn’t love silly straws?![verified 5/2012 – Found at Cosmo Rays in Tomorrowland]
- Individualized gifts are great but a pack of Character pens usually sold in sets of 6 or more make great gifts with usability and I’m all about function.
- Purchase an official Epcot World Showcase “passport” as you make your way through the World Showcase. Find a native from each country and you can get a stamp and autograph. They also have a similar “free” passport at the Animal Kingdom.
- When the husband and I first started dating we had collected pressed pennies. I wonder if I can dig them up some where. Disney has penny pressing machines planted all over. Stock each kid up with shiny pennies and a roll of quarters, each one is 51 cents. Purchase a penny pressing books to hold your collection.
- Collect guidemaps, menus, plastic cups and plates. They may someday be a collector’s item!
- Mickey’s Mart in Downtown Disney Marketplace is also a great place to stock up on cheap souvenirs. They only sells items for $10 or less.
- Visiting the outlets, check out the Character Premiere store at the Orlando Premium Outlets center.
- The refillable mugs at each resort are another type of perk. At approximately $13, a refillable mug can go a long way.
- Small bottles of Mickey shampoo and conditioner are available in many Disney resort rooms and make great souvenirs. Use the ones in your room and ask housekeeping staff for a few to take home.
- Investigate the kids’ programs at your Disney resort hotel. The Deluxe resorts usually have kids’ recreation programs such as coloring, crafts, pool games, Hidden Mickey searches, and storytelling at various times for FREE! [verified 5/2012]
- Garden Grocer, www.gardengrocer.com is a grocery delivery service that will bring your pre-ordered groceries for a price comparable to shopping yourself. Another great place online is Amazon.com.
- If you’re staying at the Disney Swan or Dolphin and have a AAA card, they have some exclusive coupons. Also filed for future reference, purchase park passes at the AAA office and receive a AAA Diamond Preferred Parking Certificate.
- Buy a Disney poncho if it rains. Pricier than outside but they have free, no questions ask, replacement policy.
EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC
- First stop, making “M” his very own Mickey Mouse ear hat. You can visit Chapeau Hat Shoppe on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom or Chapeau Hat Shoppe in Downtown Disney. Tip: Buy some extra interchangable ears!
- We will be getting “M”s hair done at the Harmony Barbershop in the Magic Kingdom. You can get a real haircut for about the same price as you would pay at your local barber shop sprinkled with some magic Mickey pixie dust! If it’s a first haircut, rumor has it you may get a set of ears with First Cut or even a certificate commemorating the occasion! [verified 5/2012]
- I LOVE Mr. Potato head. A classic toy with so much appeal. I am so excited to hit the “Potato Bar” inside the Once Upon a Toy store. You can stuff a box full of cool exclusive Disney parts. Be sure to tap your box a few times to stuff it to the max. Buy the Potato Head body at home for less, then fill up your box with the exclusive Disney-related parts! For my kids, there is also a
My Little Pony version of the stuff-a-box idea and abuild-your-own lightsaber station. Yay! Something for everyone![verified 5/2012]
- My daughter finally appreciates the gorgeous charm bracelet I bought when she was just a baby. And word has it, stationed in nearly every Disney gift shop are displays of Disney charms. Heck, I may even get a bracelet started for myself. [verified 5/2012]
- The Lego Imagination Center has a FREE 3,000-square-foot outdoor play area filled with thousands of LEGO blocks. They also have amazing Lego sculptures which make for a great photo op. Usually the first Tuesday each month at 5pm they host a Monthly Mini Model Build for kids ages 6-14 to build and take home a FREE mini model! [verified 5/2012]
- Purchase a fish extender to hang on the fish outside your cabin and you just might find some trinkets gifted by neighbors and cast members throughout your stay!
- Want to make your cabin your home away from home, I am totally in love with this Custom Personalized Captain Mickey Disney Cruise Stateroom Door Magnet found on Etsy for $15. We haven’t booked our cruise yet, but I have one ready for the day!
- I was about to purchase some of those safety tattoos for my kids when I cam across this great tip. Stop by Guest Relations in the morning and get a tag where you can put your contact information. Stick them on the inside of your children’s clothing in case you get separated from your child. I just wonder if staff are trained to look under their clothing for these tags?
- First time at Disney, take the 20-minute ride on the tram at Walt Disney World Railroad Station on Main Street. It’s a great way to see everything and not get overwhelmed. [verified 5/2012 – can’t really see much though as it’s mostly behind the scenes, but there are some lovely sets up]
- We here fast-food style serving is the standard at Disney, the best is to be had at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Flame Tree Barbeque [highly recommended!]. At the Magic Kingdom check out Pecos Bill Cafe in Frontierland and Columbia Harbour House in Liberty Square. [verified 5/2012]
- Counter-service eateries can get crowded fast especially at peak times like lunch, get on the line farthest from the door. They are often the shortest.
- Bringing water or outside food into the parks is prohibited except for medical necessity. We love the idea of collapsible water bottles which can fold easily and store in your bag. Once inside the parks, ask for a “cup of ice water” which is free and fill up your water bottles.
- Freeze wash cloths and store them in Ziploc bags for a way to stay cool.
- Copy the numbers on your tickets. No copier on site, take a phone pic and email them to yourself. If you ever lose those valuable passes, it makes it a lot easier to replace.
- If you get to the park early, your best tip is to GO LEFT for shorter lines to your favorite rides and attractions!
- Box of Ziploc bags
- Stain Removers, Shout wipes are my favorite
- Baby wipes
- Waterproof pass protector
- Foldable water bottles
- Pocket Breeze are also a necessity for the summer months and can be cheaply found on Amazon.com
- Check out this great page on Intercot for Hidden Treasures & Magical Surprises Guide.
- Passporter.com – join their monthly club for a little less than $5 a month. You can cancel at any time but they include valuable e-books to download for FREE!
- www.PressedCoins.com for a list of Disney Pressed Coin locations.
- Hidden Mickeys Guide
- LaughingPlaceStore.com – a great site for Disney souvenirs.
- The Mouse for Less
- Mouse Savers
- Disneyed.com – great tips from seasoned mom Colleen Padilla!
- Staying off-site, get yourself a Magicard for discount dining. Use the card to request coupon booklets at the many of the surrounding outlet malls.
- WDW Info
- The Mouse for Less
Got a tip to share? Please leave a comment! I want to maximize and make my kid’s first Disney experience the most Magical it can be.