Whitewater Rafting Fun on the Chattahoochee

If you are looking for a fun adventure, look no further than a whitewater rafting trip down the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia!

whitewater rafting

It’s been a crazy year, and we were looking for a last minute adventure before school started. We finally settled on taking our boys, ages 14 and 9, on their first whitewater rafting trip! It’s been years since I rafted down the Ocoee River in Tennessee, and I had no idea that there was a world class rafting course on the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia!

Whitewater Express in Columbus offers 3 levels of whitewater rafting fun:

  • Classic Trip – 2 hours – minimum age of 7
  • Challenge Trip – 2.5 hours – minimum age of 12
  • Carnage Trip – 2.5 hours – minimum age of 12
whitewater rafting

Family Friendly Fun

We selected the Classic Trip with Whitewater Express – Chattahoochee. Our family had such a great time. The RushSouth Whitewater Park on the Chattahoochee River is the longest urban whitewater rafting in the world! Our guide explained to us that when the developers were planning the course, they looked very carefully at the layout of the rocks and boulders that were already in the Chattahoochee River. They added some boulders and moved the location of others. This created a course that is easy enough for beginners, but challenging enough for experts. The result was exciting and fun rapids, even for beginners. Trips range from $39.95 to $74.95, and group rates are available, and military discounts are available.

From visitcolumbusga.com, “This course consists of over 5 class 4+ rapids and 10 smaller rapids. It’s one of the most exciting whitewater rafting rivers in the US! The biggest distinction between this river and other rivers is the volume of water which will be in the river when it is rafted. For comparison, the rapids on the Ocoee River can reach up to 1,100 cubic feet per second in volume, while the rapids at the Chattahoochee can reach up to 13,000 cubic feet per second in volume. This makes the rapids the largest south of Canada and east of the Chattahoochee!”

Getting Started

I purchased our tickets online a few days prior to our rafting trip. The Classic Course trips are taking in the morning, and the more challenging course trips are taken in the afternoon. This is because more water is released by the dam throughout the day, which increases the intensity level. Our trip was scheduled to begin at 10:00, and we were instructed to arrive 30 min prior to fill out paperwork. This paperwork is whitewater release forms as well as a Covid-19 waiver. There are lockers available in the restrooms, but we left our belongings in the car and put our keys in the storage bin.

After filling out everything, we were taken into the supply room and suited up with life jackets, helmets and given our paddles. Make sure to look for the aquarium that stores all the cool things they’ve found in the river, including giant shark teeth, tons of cell phones and even a grimy macbook!

We met our guide, Harris, and hopped in the transport van to take us to the drop off point. Harris gave us our safety spiel, and we were on our way.

Bonus tip: Be prepared to get VERY wet. We wore swimsuits and t-shirts. Shoes with a strap on the back, water shoes, or tennis shoes are required. Flip flops and sunglasses will get lost! I left my phone in the car because I was more afraid of losing it than I was of missing out on pictures.

whitewater rafting

Let’s get this party started!

If you’ve been rafting on most whitewater trips, the water tends to be very chilly. Not so for this time of year for the Chattahoochee. If you are traveling during cooler months, wet suits are available. The water felt amazing on our trip. We hoped in the raft and Harris showed us the proper way to hold our paddles, and we were off! My oldest son was super excited about our adventure, but my younger son was slightly hesitant. Good thing we just jumped right in, braving one of the bigger rapids on the classic course!

family adventure

Unique Whitewater Rafting Fun

Rafting on the Chattahoochee River was very different from other rafting trips I’ve taken. For first, the water temperature was much more comfortable. Secondly, there were solid “breaks” in the action, so we were really able to take in the scenery and look for wildlife. I was much younger when I rafted on the Ocoee, and I think I really enjoyed calmer side of the Chattahoochee. There is enough adventure to keep it exciting, but enough calmness to be enjoyable.

whitewater rafting

Rafters on the classic course are able to jump in on a slower section of the river and enjoy a lazy river float. Make sure you keep you feet forward and stay floating on your back; those boulders and rocks can be hiding under the water! We thoroughly enjoyed floating down the river and looking for wildlife on the banks.

whitewater rafting

Listen to your Guide and Smile!!

After our float, we were back in the raft and ready for our next few rapids. Make sure to listen carefully to your guide, because it is their ultimate goal for you to be safe while having fun. The more rapids we went through the more comfortable our younger son became. By the end of the trip, he was begging to go again. Our guide, Harris, was extremely skilled in whitewater rafting, and was super engaging and entertaining. During our 2 hours with him we had a blast! Just before the end of the trip at one of the larger rapids, your guide will point out a photographer ready to take some action shots of your crew. You can purchase these for $24.95, and receive all of them. Definitely worth every penny for us to be able to have a permanent reminder of such a fun trip.

Let’s Wrap it Up!

After your raft trip you exit the river and then begin a short walk back to the store front to return your gear. There are clean bathrooms for you to get changed before you head home, as well as a very nice gift shop to browse. Please remember to tip your guide for doing a great job. I promise you they work hard to keep you safe!

Summer fun

If you are looking for a fun adventure, I would definitely recommend a whitewater rafting trip down the Chattahoochee River. We are already planning a trip back for one of the more challenging courses. This trip was the perfect end to our summer, and absolutely something we won’t forget!

Liked this adventure and looking for more Alabama adventures and fun? Be sure to check out my time spelunking in Alabama’s DeSoto Caverns!

DeSoto Caverns: An Alabama Gem

DeSoto Caverns: An Alabama Gem

If you are looking for something fun and different to do for the last part of summer, head over to Childersburg, AL and spend a day exploring DeSoto Caverns. Childersburg is about 37 miles from Birmingham, and the park and grounds are currently open Thursdays through Mondays from 10:00 – 5:00. I took my two sons to the park and we had a great day exploring.

About the Caverns

DeSoto Caverns has a rich history that dates back thousands of years with Native Americans first using the caverns as a burial ground. In 1796, a letter was sent to George Washington describing the beauty of the caverns, which makes DeSoto Caverns the first recorded cave in American history. The caverns played a vital part of the Civil War when gunpowder was produced in the cavern. During prohibition times, moonshine was made there! A underground tavern was created which allowed guests to enjoy moonshine and dance the night away!

The cave has been in the Mathis family for over 100 years, and a tourist attraction since 1975. While there are attractions that have been around since my childhood in the 80’s, the Mathis family has updated attractions and brought in lots of new fun.

The grounds are well maintained, with patriotic music playing around the park. If it is hot outside, you will love the fact that the caverns are a constant 60 degrees year-round! It felt incredible in the cavern; a nice break from the heat and humidity outside.

Safety Adaptations for Covid-19

Everyone is concerned with Covid-19. To accommodate new CDC safety recommendations, Desoto Caverns has changed a few things. The first is the addition of the unlimited access wrist band. This reduces contact between people because no one has to check tickets before visiting attractions. The color of your band indicates the attractions you can choose from. The all inclusive gate ticket is $49.99 for adults and $44.99 for children from 4-11 and seniors. Children 3 and under are free. This ticket includes:

  • guided cavern tour
  • over a dozen unlimited attractions
  • craft artisan demonstrations
  • streetmosphere performances
  • strolling entertainment

You can add lunch in for a discounted price of $10.99 online, and that includes a refillable drink mug that was a life saver for us! We purchased our tickets online ahead of time and all we had to do at the ticket booth was give the attendant our name. We selected our cavern tour time and given our wrist band. Easy peasy!

Desoto Caverns has also limited the number of people on tours of the cavern to 25 people, and placed hand sanitizing stations around the park. Social distancing markers have been placed around busier locations like the gift shop, and everyone is encouraged to maintain a safe distance while on the property. Our tour guide, Nathan, did a great job pointing out safe distances were we could stand. Masks are strongly encouraged throughout the park, and with current mandates in Alabama, they need to be worn when in groups, or inside buildings. We wore our masks throughout the tour.

Cavern Tour

We opted for the 11:30 tour which gave us plenty of time to check out the park attractions before we started our tour. When it was time, our group of 25 people were led into the caverns by Nathan. He did a fantastic job providing history of the caverns, while at the same time being funny and entertaining. Your first stop inside the caverns is the Cathedral room which is as tall as a 12 story building and longer than a football field. Very impressive!

After everyone is seated on benches, the lights are turned off and you will experience total darkness for just a moment. If you have little ones, don’t worry. It’s only for a few seconds!

After total darkness you are treated to a beautiful light and water show. When the light show is complete, your tour around the cavern will begin. You will be shown the caverns in an educational and fun way. There is so much history in an ancient cavern like DeSoto, and we enjoyed every second. When you can incorporate education, beautiful scenery and humor, you know you have a winner that can entertain a wide variety of ages!

DeSoto Caverns is handicap accessible, and strollers are allowed. Because some areas are steep, if you are in a wheelchair you need to make sure someone is there to assist you.

Bonus Tip: Make sure to wear comfortable shoes with good traction. The cave has lots of drips of water and areas can be slippery!

Park Attractions

Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to explore the grounds, because there is so much to do! The unlimited tour is unlimited for everything listed below except for the guided cavern tour. You only get one of those!

  • 1 hour guided Cavern Tour*
  • Destiny Express Train ride
  • DeSoto’s Lost Trail Maze
  • Squirt Gun Lost Trail Maze
  • Gemstone Panning
  • Wacky Water Golf
  • DeSoto’s Wall Climb
  • Splash Pad
  • Happy’s Hoops
  • Crystal Find
  • Cannon Wars
  • Water Balloon Battle
  • Bow and Arrow Shoot
  • Explorer Ship

Family Friendly Fun

My family arrived at the park at 10:00 in the morning. After our cavern tour we enjoyed lunch from the gift shop. If you prefer, you can pack a picnic lunch and sit at one of the many tables set up on the grounds. There is a playground right next to the picnic tables, and a small creek kids can play in.

Throughout the day we had a blast mining for gemstones and did that 3 times! The kids loved the crystal find hut, and we left with some very large crystals.

If mazes are your thing, make sure you check out the DeSoto mazes. They are huge! We cooled off in the afternoon checking out the water gun maze. It was a hit! What kid doesn’t love shooting their mom with a water gun?

Our last hoorah before leaving the park was letting the boys have water balloon battles and playing in the splash pad.

It was the perfect way to cool off, and a great ending to a super fun day! We played hard for hours, and finally left at 3:00. We would have stayed longer if my boys had their way. This mama was hot and tired! We had a wonderful time exploring DeSoto Caverns and would definitely recommend it for a fun, family outing. Check it out if you are in the area!

Ultimate Disney Packing Guide

Ultimate Disney Packing Guide

Ultimate Disney Packing Guide

Packing for a trip to Disney can be overwhelming. It’s so easy to forget things that you need and over pack with things you won’t end up using. We have compiled a list of the basics to get you started packing for your next Disney vacation. This list is going to cover the broad categories, and we will assume that you are going to pack basic things like underwear, socks and deodorant. Please don’t forget the deodorant!

First of all, if you are anything like me you will WAY over pack. Live and learn that if you forget it, it’s okay! Chances are your Disney resort gift shop will have it. The gift shops are stocked with essentials. If the resort gift shop doesn’t have what you need, you can always drive to one of the convenient Walmart stores in the area, or even have items delivered. If you are missing some baby essentials, hit the parks. The baby care stations in the Disney theme parks have diapers, wipes, baby food and even children’s medication for sale.

If you are flying to Disney, you will need to make sure you keep your MagicBands in your carry on luggage. You will need them if utilizing Disney’s Magical Express.

Ultimate Disney Packing Guide

Let’s get started packing! Here is our Disney packing list:

Packing List

Clothing
Seasonally appropriate clothing
Raincoat/Poncho
Light Jacket
At least 2 pairs of shoes
Flip flops/sandals for pool
Swimsuit
Socks

Ultimate Disney Packing Guide

Park Bag
Snacks
Gum
Water bottles
Water flavoring drops
Sunscreen
Sunglasses and/or hat
Small first aid kit
Moleskin/blister blockers
Medication (as needed)
Wet wipes/baby wipes
Hand sanitizer
Feminine products
Personal fan mister
Glow sticks

ultimate disney packing guide

Other Items for the Park
Stroller and rain cover
Camera bag
Backpack/Purse
Ziploc or dry bags for electronics, in case of rain or wet rides

Electronics
Camera and/or video camera
Smartphone with My Disney Experience app downloaded
Portable chargers and cords
Batteries and SD card for camera

ultimate disney packing guide

Personal Items
Travel documents (hotel confirmation, rental car confirmation, etc).
Driver’s License/ID Card
Membership card (DVC, Visa, etc.)
MagicBands/Park Tickets
Wallet/Purse
Spending Money

We have our packing list available as a free download for you!

ultimate disney packing guide

As you pack, please remember our ultimate Disney packing guide is not all inclusive. If you are taking several electronic devices, check out Meredith’s tips on keeping your devices charged on the go. As always, please review the park rules for Walt Disney World to make sure you aren’t packing a restricted item! Have we left off anything from our list that you think is essential? Let’s chat in the comments! ~Amy ºoº

Save The Sea Turtles

save the turtles

Save The Sea Turtles

The Carnival Cruise Line “Save A Sea Turtle Experience” allows you to rescue baby sea turtles from their nest in Cozumel and release them in the ocean. We recently cruised with Carnival to Cozumel, Mexico and spent the day doing the “Save A Sea Turtle Experience” with Carnival Cruise Line. We had an amazing time and I wanted to share it with you.

About the Turtles

Cozumel has the most sea turtle nests per kilometer than any other place in Mexico, by a 3 to 1 ratio. This excursion works with biologists in the area who have mapped out over 2,000 sea turtle nests on the island! The biologists monitor the nests that hatch overnight on the protected beaches and that’s where the volunteers come in. You are given the opportunity to help dig up the turtle nests to save the turtles that couldn’t make it out on their own. As the first few turtles in a nest start to hatch, they push the sand down over the other turtles. It makes it really difficult for some of the turtles to make it to the surface. Did you know that only 80% of the hatched nest has the energy and stamina to make it to the surface? That’s where you get to make the difference.

The beach in Cozumel, Mexico

The Experience

This experience was booked directly through Carnival. That means that transportation from the cruise port was provided, as well as security in knowing you won’t get left behind if the excursion runs late! We had a meeting point right off the Cozumel pier. After we checked in with our guide, Alfredo, we boarded a large air conditioned tour bus. Alfredo begin telling us about the island of Cozumel, and how important the turtles are to the region. We stopped by a small roadside market and had a chance to shop for a little bit, buy a cold drink or take some pictures at the overlook of the ocean. Make sure you have some cash if you would like to shop. The vendors will haggle with you, so don’t feel pressure to pay full price. This stop is going to be your one and only bathroom break on the excursion, so don’t skip it! In the interest of full disclosure, this is not your typical bathroom. It’s a step above a port-a-potty, but that’s about the only positive thing I can say.

save the turtles experience
We got some ice cold glass bottles of Mexican coke at the stop and they were delicious!

After we boarded the bus again, Alfredo got in contact with the biologists to determine our work site, and then he demonstrated how we were would work the turtle nests. It’s a labor intensive process, and following the instructions is critical. Each volunteer is given a rubber glove to make sure that the turtles aren’t exposed to any germs on our hands. We were also shown the proper way to hold the turtles by using our pointer fingers and thumbs to grasp the outside of the shell, making sure to never touch the underside of the turtle. Their stomachs are coated in oils that are critical to their safety in the water.

save the sea turtles experiences

Working Your Nest

Our nest marker. There are thousands of these markers around the beaches.

5 nests hatched the prior night. Our tour group had 28 people, and we were divided up among the nests. Our family of 6 worked the first nest. Each group was set up with a beach umbrella for shade, a bucket and verbal instructions to help safely remove the turtles. We had to draw a small circle in the sand around the marker location, and then draw another circle just beyond the first circle. The inner circle indicates where you will dig, and the outer circle is the line in which you shouldn’t cross with your body weight. This part is very important. Each person digging is to lay on their stomach in the sand and scoop the sand out with their gloved hand. You place the removed sand outside of both of the circles so you don’t get a pile of sand in your way.

save the sea turtles experiences

Finding The Turtles

Our mama turtle laid her nest on a hill, right at the edge of some shrubbery, so it was somewhat awkward to work the nest. We took turns scooping the sand out and roughly a foot down we came across our first turtle.

Words cannot describe what it felt like pulling that small sea turtle out of the sand. It was something I’ll never forget. The turtles are very sluggish when they are first pulled out, so don’t be alarmed. We gently placed the first turtle in the bucket and within a few seconds he was all over the place!

save the sea turtles experiences
The baby turtles are so cute!
save the sea turtles experiences

We took turns working the hole until it got so deep that my husband had to reach the bottom. We pulled out 14 live baby turtles! I even got the honor of pulling a turtle out as it was hatching from its egg! Part of your job is to make sure you remove all the turtle eggs and shells from the nest. You group them into piles of 10 so the biologist will be able to determine how many eggs were laid, how many hatched on their own, and how many were rescued.

save the sea turtles experiences

The Save the Sea Turtles Experience was hands down the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had on a cruise excursion. Pulling those precious baby turtles out of the sand was something I’ll never forget. We counted over 90 eggs in our nest! We unfortunately pulled out several eggs from our nest that didn’t make it, but we pulled out 14 live babies! That is 14 baby turtles that wouldn’t have survived had it not been for the turtle rescue! We loved our Save the Sea Turtles experience!

save the sea turtles experiences

The Release

After the nests were completed, the turtles were collected in a large bucket. We formed a line along the shoreline and each of us were given a baby turtle to release. It was amazing at how strong those little babies are. Feeling those little fins moving against my fingers was awe inspiring. At release time everyone stands in a straight line at the edge of the water. You need to make sure you don’t move as the turtles were heading out. The turtles are placed in the sand so they “learn” where they came from. This teaches them where they will return in 10-15 years.

Be Very Still!

The waves would wash the turtles right back in and if we moved we would risk stepping on them. Some of the babies washed back into the shore line several times. They kept on until they finally reached the water and swam away. We did 2 releases where everyone had their own turtle, and then the final release was about 50 turtles at the same time. It was completely joyful watching those turtles scurry across the sand as they headed out into the water. I’ll never forget watching those baby turtles swim away! We released 4 loggerhead sea turtles from one nest and 125 green sea turtles from four nests. 129 baby sea turtles were set free by this unbelievable volunteer opportunity!

You will be given the opportunity to purchase a picture of your group at the nest, as well as souvenir t-shirts. Make sure to bring cash if you think you will be interested in either!

Things to Know Before You Book

  • The Save the Sea Turtles experience excursion is available in Cozumel July through November. It costs $79.99 for children ages 4-12 and $89.99 for teens and adults. Yes, you are paying to volunteer, but it’s worth it! As always, prices are subject to change.
  • You can book online prior to your cruise, or onboard your Carnival ship. The excursion may sell out.
  • The excursion is 4 hours long, and there is no minimum age.
  • If you are pregnant or have heart or respiratory problems, you are not permitted on this excursion
  • The cruise has a moderate activity level. You could be walking down hilly terrain to reach your nest, laying on the ground digging, and standing for extended periods. You will get dirty, hot and sweaty. It is a very physical excursion!
  • The excursion left at 9 and it was almost 2 when we got back on the ship. Lunch isn’t provided. You may want to bring some snacks with you.
  • There is a good chance you will encounter baby turtles that didn’t survive. Prepare young children for this possibility.

What to Bring With You

  • Comfortable shoes for walking in the hot sand.
  • Comfortable clothes for being in the sun for an extended period of time. We wore our swimsuits and swim shirts/cover ups, and flip flops. You can rinse your cool your feet in the ocean.
  • Sunscreen, but don’t apply it below your wrists. It can wipe off on the turtles.
  • Cash if you would like to shop in the marketplace.
  • Bring a towel to wipe off.
  • Bottled water and possibly snacks. You will receive cold water at the end of the excursion, but you could get extremely hot and thirsty in the sun on the beach.
  • Camera. Trust me on this, you are gonna want to take pictures and video of your adorable baby turtles.
  • Gratuity money for your bus driver and tour guide. They deserve it and work so hard for it!
save the sea turtles experiences

Memories for a Lifetime

This excursion was the highlight of the cruise for our family. We will cherish the memories, and hopefully in 10-15 years our turtles will return to this protected beach in Cozumel and continue the legacy for future generations of sea turtles!

How to Book

For more information, or to book the Save the Sea Turtles Experience excursion, please visit Carnival’s Excursion Site. As with most travel options, utilizing a good travel agent is always the best way to go. They already know all of this information and will be able to advise you on what’s best for you and your travel party. If you’ve already got an agent you work with, then great! Contact them today! Need an agent? We’d be happy to help you plan! Check out our bio page for information on how to contact us and get your own vacation planning going!

Hidden Secret: Relaxation in the Rainforest on Disney Cruise Line

Ssshhhh…..I’m about to let you in on one of the best kept secrets for Disney Cruise Line: the Rainforest Room in the Senses Spa & Salon.

The Rainforest Room is a hidden gem in the Senses Spa on board all of the Disney cruise ships. Each Rainforest room is slightly different, but each of them feature the same idea – rest and relaxation at an affordable price! This limited access area is available to guests as a single day pass, or a pass for your entire voyage. Because there are a limited number of passes sold, the Rainforest room will never be too crowded. I purchased the single day pass on our last Disney cruise, and it did not disappoint! Let me show you around!

The Changing Room

Rainforest Room

When you enter the Senses Spa, you are given a bracelet that allows you to access the Rainforest room, and taken to the appropriate changing room. Trust me on this…these changing rooms aren’t your typical locker rooms. These are amazing! Marble counter tops, immaculately clean, and amenities to boot! There were vast supplies of complimentary spa quality lotions, soaps, and razors and you can even borrow hair dryers. The shower stalls were very spacious and super clean. There are stacks of plush towels and you are given a robe and flip flops to wear around the spa.

Rainforest Room
Rainforest Room

Bonus Tip!

The changing room showers at Senses Spa are available to you throughout your cruise – with or without a visit to the Rainforest Room. I ended up showering in the changing room showers at the spa a few times. The showers are very large, super clean and the complimentary spa products are amazing! It was nice having a larger area to get ready in when we were all cleaning up for dinner.

Rainforest Room

Each locker is very spacious and you use a custom numerical combination for the lock. You just need to remember which locker you choose, and the combination. Don’t worry – if you have a problem the spa staff are there to help!

Rainforest Time!

When you’ve gotten your stuff into your locker, now it’s time to get ready for the Rainforest room. First thing to know….everyone wears a swimsuit! The Rainforest room is co-ed, and no nudity is allowed!

Rainforest Room

Once you enter these doors, get ready for rest and relaxation!

Rainforest Room

The first thing you will notice is how beautiful it is. There is stone work everywhere, and the whole environment oozes calm and serenity. When you enter the Rainforest room, enjoy a cool glass of fruit-infused water or a cup of hot tea before you head into the shower room.

Rainforest Room

This is where the fun begins! The Rainforest shower room has five aromatherapy showers, each of which have different water temperatures, scents and strengths. Some are truly relaxing with warm or hot water, and others are more invigorating with cool or cold water. Check out the options and then hang your spa robe up on the hook outside the shower and try it out. Since everyone is wearing swimsuits, you don’t have to worry about it being co-ed. I loved the shower experience. I wasn’t a big fan of the super cold showers, but the warm showers were amazing!

Rainforest Room

When you are done showering, it’s the perfect time to check out the heated ceramic loungers. These are usually in high demand, so you may have to wait for just a bit for one to free up. Trust me, it’s worth the wait. The angle of the loungers were perfect for relaxing, and they are just warm enough to make you want to fall asleep and take a nap. Feel free to take a book with you, or doze off. However you choose to relax is up to you. I absolutely loved the loungers. My only problem is that I don’t have one at home!

Rainforest Room

The heated loungers overlook the ocean for a truly relaxing experience at the spa. I visited the Rainforest room on our Nassau day, so my view was another cruise ship which was cool in other ways. I enjoyed chilling out while watching the activities on board the Royal Caribbean ship next to us!

On the Disney Dream there are two hydrotherapy Jacuzzi tubs right off the the heated lounger room. These have the same view as the lounges do. One Jacuzzi tub was a regular hot tub with – you guessed it – hot water. The other tub was cooler water and it was Heaven! I loved soaking in the cooler tub enjoying the view.

Rainforest Room

After I was sufficiently water logged I checked out the steam rooms: the
Laconium, the Caldarium, and the Steam Hamam. I only visited these in passing because being hot just isn’t my thing. I live in Alabama. I have enough heat and humidity in my every day life.

Rainforest Room

I spent several hours at the Rainforest enjoying the amenities. For the price point and relaxation, it is definitely something I would do again on our next Disney cruise.

Know Before You Go

  • Day passes are available for purchase before you board by calling 1-800-601-8455, or you can purchase multi-day and couples multi-day passes when you board.
  • If pre-purchased, Day passes are $16 plus 18% gratuity.
    The Day passes are $27 if purchased on board.
  • The passes allows you entry for as long as you want for an entire day, or you can come and go as you like. It’s up to you!
  • Guests must be 18 years of age to enjoy the Rainforest Room.

Have you visited the Rainforest Room on a Disney Cruise Ship? If so, what did you think? If you haven’t tried it out, is this something you would like? Let’s chat in the comments! ~Amy ºoº

7 Ways to Beat the Heat at Walt Disney World

Extra magic hours are a great reason to stay on property at Disney World.

If you are planning at trip to Walt Disney World you need to know that Orlando can be H-O-T! The average temperature in the summer months is in the mid 90’s, and the humidity can be brutal. I’ve lived in Alabama my whole life, and the summer still kicks my tail. If you are from a cooler climate, I can promise you that you will experience heat like never before if you visit Walt Disney World in the middle of August. It isn’t just the heat that is oppressive, it’s the humidity which will suck the life out of you. If you are traveling to Walt Disney World during the hotter months of the year, you need to be prepared. Here are 7 ways to beat the heat and stay cool at Walt Disney World Let’s get started!

7. Prepare before you leave home!

Guide to Buying Shoes for a Disney trip

Break out your walking shoes and hit the road to get used to physical exercise in the heat before you get to the parks. The average guest walks 8-10 miles a day at Walt Disney World. If you aren’t used to the heat or exercise, you are going to feel like death warmed over. If you are a professional couch surfer with the air conditioner blasting at 68 degrees, you will be in for a rude awakening at the parks. Spend some time outside just acclimating to moving around in the great (and hot) outdoors before you attempt to pull a 12 hour day at the parks. Bonus tip – make sure you are wearing comfy shoes that breathe!

6. Pack accordingly!

Visit your Walmart or sporting goods store before your visit and stock up on items that will help you stay cool. Check out frogg toggs, cooling rags that are amazing when they are wet. Whenever they start to get warm again, just run them back under some cool water, or throw some ice cubes in them, wrap them back around your neck and you will be good to go again.

Grab a few small spray bottles with cooling fans before your trip. They are usually available for purchase in the parks, but you will save tons by bringing them with you. Add some ice and water, and you will be ready to rock and roll. These are great for kids and adults, and are good at moving the hot, sticky air away from your face when the breeze has disappeared. You can even clip one on your stroller to keep your little ones comfortable. Don’t forget to throw in a hat or visor and shades in your bag to keep the sun at bay.

Image may contain: one or more people

When packing for your trip be sure to think carefully about the clothes you are putting in your suitcase. Avoid dark colors, and look for fabrics that breathe and dry quickly. I throw in a change of clothes in our bag for our kids because sweaty, wet clothes are miserable, and who wants a miserable and whiny kid at WDW? Not me!

Another bonus tip: throw in some diaper rash ointment and Gold Bond No Mess Powder Spray in your bag. The diaper rash ointment is great for irritated and damp skin (even for adults). The Gold Bond spray is a total game changer for anyone dealing with “chub rub”.

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5. Utilize Extra Magic Hours!

Walt Disney World Resort guests have the perk of being able to use Extra Magic Hours either in the morning or evening at the parks. The schedule is posted for the parks months in advance, and resort guests can either get into the parks before non-resort guests, or can stay later, depending on the schedule for that day. Use these hours wisely! If you get to the parks at 8:00 in the morning, you can spend several well planned hours hitting all the major attractions, eat lunch, and then take a few hours to relax during the hottest part of the day. After a break, head back to the parks for more fun. If Extra Magic Hours are offered during the evening, you can hit the parks until midnight, or even later, with the temperatures being much more manageable. 

4. Party After Hours!

Purchase Disney After Hours or Disney H20 Glow Nights tickets! Let’s start with Disney After Hours….These 3-hour nighttime events allow guests to enter the parks at 7:00 pm and enjoy attractions and experiences with little-to-no-wait time. You can find Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park! You will be able to have smaller crowds which will let you really enjoy popular attractions and Character Greetings. Ice cream, popcorn and select beverages are all included with the cost of admission! Tickets start at $125.

Cinderella Castle at dusk

At Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, guests can enjoy the H20 Glow Nights where the water park atmosphere transforms into an electric celebration overflowing with splash-tastic surprises. Along with shorter wait times for popular waterslides, you can look forward to a:

  • DJ-hosted dance party on the sandy beaches of the Surf Pool
  • Playful mix of Toy Story-themed experiences including Character Greeting with Buzz Lightyear, Woody and Jessie
  • Tempting array of limited-time food and beverage offerings
  • Special area—The Wharf—just for adult partygoers, featuring entertainment and a bar with refreshing libations available for purchase.
A water tower sign reads Disney H2O Glow Nights and glowing water splashes Toy Story characters

Tickets for H20 Glow Nights start at $59, and are available on select nights from May to August.

3. Take a break!

Leave the parks during the hottest part of the day and spend a few hours either relaxing in your resort pool or taking a nap. You will need it because the heat just zaps energy, and the break will be well appreciated! After a few hours, you can head back to the parks and start the fun again.

Or, you can spend a day at one of Walt Disney World’s water parks, Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach, to beat the heat and have fun playing at the same time. Win/win!

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2. Get inside!

There are so many attractions around Walt Disney World that are inside! These are perfect for hot park days, or even for the inevitable pop-up showers that Orlando is so famous for. Plan accordingly to visit some of the most popular including Space Mountain, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, the indoor playground at Dumbo, all at Magic Kingdom. You can take time to watch stage shows like Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo at Animal Kingdom and the Frozen Sing-A-Long or Voyage of the Little Mermaid at Hollywood Studios. Plan to spend time exploring the the Living Seas Aquarium at Epcot. There are so many indoor attractions around Walt Disney World that are the perfect escape from the heat!

Taking a few minutes to pop into a quick service restaurant to have a cool drink, a scoop of ice cream or a snack is also a great way to beat the heat. Seek out the air conditioning and it will definitely improve your day!

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1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! 

And by “hydrate” I mean to drink water! August in Orlando is not the time to attempt to drink your way around the World Showcase at Epcot. Tequila and 95 degree temps don’t mix well. Pack a water bottle or camelbak and drink, drink, drink! And don’t forget that all counter service restaurants will give you cups of ice water for free, so you can even save some money without purchasing bottled water. I made it a habit to get some ice water just about every time we saw a counter service restaurant, because by the time you feel thirsty, dehydration has already started. Stay ahead of it!

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So there you have it! My top 7 tips for beating the heat at Walt Disney World. Do you have any tips? Let’s chat in the comments! ~Amy ºoº

How To Make Money At Disney

Make Money at Disney

How to Make Money at Disney

Make money at Disney? YES, PLEASE!!

We recently returned from a family trip to Coronado Springs Resort at Walt Disney World. At check-in we were given the option of declining daily “mousekeeping” service in exchange for a $40 Disney gift card. For awhile now I’ve heard about these gift card offers, and I was glad that I got the chance to try it out for myself. The $40 Disney gift card was a nice bonus. I was curious to find out if our family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) could manage 5 nights in a hotel room without having any cleaning services.

Make Money at Disney

How It Worked For Us

In a nutshell, our family had absolutely no issues with skipping mousekeeping. We were able to request fresh towels from guest services as needed, and we also grabbed a pile of the pool towels to use for our boys when they needed a fresh towel. We had groceries delivered to the resort which left us with a big pile of trash from boxes. Our boys took the trash down the hall to one of the outside trash cans, and repeated the process as the trash cans in the room got full. It really worked out just fine for us. I made sure that we cleaned up along the way, and the whole process was definitely painless for our family.

Honestly, our family was neater during our trip to Disney than we are at home. We made sure to make the beds before we left for the parks in the morning, and that made a huge difference. We would straighten up the counters, remove trash and pile up the wet towels if it was time to swap them out. I kept most of our clothes in the suitcases, and would “straighten” them up before we left. It felt more vacation like when we arrived back “home” to a clean room.

Make Money at Disney

Something to Consider

Know your limitations and what you expect during your resort stay. If you look forward to someone else cleaning after you and your family on vacation, or making your beds up every day, this may not be the best choice for your stay.

Tips for Declining Mousekeeping

  1. Tidy up as you go. It made it much easier to come back into the room after a long day in the parks if you know the room isn’t a disaster zone.
  2. Be kind to guest services. They will bring you fresh towels and toiletries whenever you need it. Tipping is always a nice courtesy to them!

Opting out of mousekeeping services isn’t always a option given to every guest. You can request it to see if it is available when you check in. The Disney Gift Card offer worked just fine for our family stay. Would it work for your family? Would you consider giving up mousekeeping for some extra souvenir money? Let’s chat in the comments!

~Amy

Walt Disney World Free Dining 2018

How to Visit Disney World Solo

Free Dining Offer at Walt Disney World is Now Available!

After many rumors have spread like wildfire the past few weeks, it became official today, April 24, 2018! The free dining offer for late summer and fall travel to Walt Disney World was released. Guests are eligible for free dining plans with select non-discounted 4 night Magic Your Way package. Packages must include a room at a select Disney Resort hotel and at least 4 day  tickets with Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus.

Free Disney Dining Dates

  • August 20 – September 29, 2018
  • November 24 – November 27, 2018
  • December 7 – December 23, 2018

The dining plan offer depends on which resort level you are staying at: Value and Moderate Resorts have complimentary Quick Service Dining Plans. Deluxe Resorts or Deluxe Villa Resorts will receive the regular Disney Dining Plan for free. You can make upgrades to whichever plan you qualify for, and pay the difference.

There are LOTS of room excluded from the Free Dining promo this year, including all of the following: All Star Movies, Bay Lake Tower, both Port Orleans Resorts, Wilderness Lodge, Polynesian Village Resort (villas & standard rooms), Contemporary Resort, Fort Wilderness campsites, Art of Animation Little Mermaid Rooms, Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian, and all 3-bedroom Villas. Why so many exclusions? Simple enough reason…Disney doesn’t have to offer a discount to fill those rooms to capacity.

What’s the Catch?

Why wouldn’t someone want free dining? As someone who has traveled to Disney twice with free dining offers, I personally know the value this offers to a family traveling on a budget. We have eaten like kings at Disney with the free dining. I know that I would have been pinching pennies if we were paying out of pocket.

Crowds and Blocked Dates

Many people have come to expect free dining offers in the fall at Disney and with that comes larger crowds. Larger crowds mean more time waiting in lines and it’s harder to obtain reservations at your first choice restaurants. Disney has also blocked out the entire month of October  and most of November this year, which had historically been open for free dining.

It seems as though Disney has caught on to the high number of school systems that have fall breaks now, and they have no reason to discount that season anymore. Many people have spent hours and hours on hold with Disney only to find out that due to limited availability at each resort, they couldn’t have the discount applied.

Is it worth it?

It’s a tough call on whether or not the value of the free dining is worth it anymore. For many it is. For others, it would mean changing travel dates or choosing a different resort with availability. If you hadn’t budgeted for adding park hoppers it could make the cost of the trip more expensive.

For reference on the value of free dining, here is a breakdown of the prices for the 2018 dining packages at Disney.

2018 Disney Dining Plan Pricing

My Personal Experience

When the free dining dates the last year I booked I tried for free dining for us, I found out that our reservation was outside the booking window. Out of sheer curiosity, I played around with our reservation dates and checked out the prices. That year was the first time that Disney has had the caveat that in order to qualify for free dining, guests must purchase either a Park Hopper pass or a Water Park Fun and more option. They did the same thing for 2016, and for 2017 and 2018 added in the Park Hopper requirement.

We were staying at a value resort, and I would have had to upgrade to the regular dining plan (personal preference here) and pay the difference, as well as upgrade our tickets to a Park Hopper pass. Because of this, I was actually going to end up paying more out of pocket, just for the “perk” of free dining. It took our $1600 vacation to just under $1800, so I would have ended up paying almost $200 more for free food.

Is a Room Discount better?

It was an easy decision for me for that trip and every trip since then– no free dining. However, when free dining isn’t an option look for a room discount to come out to save a little money.  All things considered, with the right availability and some flexibility with your arrival dates, you can save money with a free dining vacation.  And don’t forget that utilizing a Disney vacation planner like Jolly Holidays by SarahMain Street Memories by Meredith or Tomorrowland Travels with Amy can make the hassle of booking free dining something your TA worries about for you.

When considering the value of free dining at Disney ask yourself if the discount is worth it to your family. In our case for us it wasn’t, but it might be perfect for your family! What are your thoughts on free dining at Disney? Let’s chat in the comments. ~Amy ºoº

All About Toy Story Land

Slinky Dog Dash

What’s the “Buzz” on Toy Story Land?

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Everyone is anxiously awaiting the opening of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Slated to open on June 30th, this land will allow guests to “shrink” down to toy size. We will have the chance to explore Andy’s backyard with Woody, Buzz, Jessie and the rest of the Toy Story gang! We promise that this land will be fun for kids – and kids at heart!

Set the Scene

Toy Story Land will be full of larger than life designs inspired by a playground in Andy’s imagination. You will see giant building blocks and board game pieces, and spot some of our favorite Toy Story characters around the land.

New Attractions

Toy Story land will feature the classic Toy Story Mania, with an upgrade! There will now be 3 tracks to allow higher capacity for riders. This is definitely one of the most popular attractions at Hollywood Studios, and we are very optimistic that the third track will shorten the wait time.

Attraction cars at the start of Toy Story Mania! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Slinky Dog Dash is a family friendly coaster that will have guests zipping, dodging and dashing around turns and drops that Andy has created to make Slinky and his coils stretch to his limits. This attraction will be for guests 38″ and taller. Families will have rider swap offered as an option.

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Alien Swirling Saucers is inside a play set that Andy won at Pizza Planet.

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The concept art looks almost like bumper cars meets flying saucers. Rider swap will be offered, and guests must be 32″ tall to ride. We have to wonder one thing about this attraction…will you be chosen by the claw?!?

Concept art of Toy Story Land with a giant figure of Buzz Lightyear and the Alien Swirling Saucers spinner ride under 2 retro flying saucer shaped structures

Woody’s Lunch Box

You know that we can’t discuss this new and exciting land without discussing food! We are all about food at The Mouse and the Monorail, and we are so excited about the newest quick service dining option at Hollywood Studios, Woody’s Lunch Box. Guests can choose to eat breakfast, lunch and/or dinner at this super fun and unique restaurant. The menu features classic American food with a twist, old fashioned soda floats and Toy Story themed specialties. The Monte Cristo sandwich sounds out of this world (see what we did there!) and there seems to be many options to please even the pickiest eaters in your bunch.

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FastPass+

No trip to Walt Disney World can be complete without discussing FastPass+. We now know that Slinky Dog Dash, Alien Swirling Saucers and Toy Story Mania will be “Group A” options for Hollywood Studios. You can pre-select only 1 of those when you are making your FastPass+ reservations. You will also be able to pre-choose 2 other experiences at Hollywood Studios outside of Toy Story Land.

What to Expect

If you will be visiting Toy Story Land anytime in the immediate future be prepared! You should expect the following:

  • Lots of fun attractions and awesome food!
  • Crowds – you and everyone else will want to see Toy Story Land. Either roll with the crowds or wait it out!
  • High wait times – be patient! Leave those angry eyes at home!

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Disney Imagineers have gone above and beyond preparing this new land. They take even the smallest details into account, and we can’t wait to see everything this new land has to offer. Are you super excited about Toy Story Land? Let’s chat in the comments!

All concept photos, attraction photos and Toy Story Land photos are from Disney Parks Blog and disneyworld.disney.go.com

What’s Coming to Walt Disney World in 2018

Walt Disney World has so much fun an exciting stuff in the pipeline for 2018, and we wanted to capture it for you! If you have a visit planned for 2018 and beyond, it will definitely be worth the growing pains! Keep reading to find out what’s coming to Walt Disney World in 2018

Star Wars Fans – THE FORCE IS WITH YOU!

New Star Wars: The Last Jedi additions have been added to the display area at Star Wars Launch Bay in Hollywood Studios. These are a must see for fans of the movie. If you are a Star Wars junkie, a walk through the Launch Bay has to be on your agenda!

If you are hitting up Disney Springs, don’t miss the ILMxLAB and The Void. Teams of four will be able to go undercover as stormtroopers to spy and grab Imperial intelligence to try and save the Rebel Alliance!

Star Tours at Hollywood Studios has added 2 new destinations. Visitors to this attraction will now be able to visit Crait and Batuu! We can’t wait for 2019 when the Star Wars resort will be unveiled.

Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts

Under an amazing sunburst, the China Pavilion majestically sits by a pond packed with lily padsWe give a big welcome back to the second year of Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts. This festival will be held January 12th though February 19th and will feature seminars, workshop classes on animation, photography and the art of making topiaries. You can also check out the delicious food offerings and Broadway style performances.

Disney After Hours

Disney After Hours event nights will hit Magic Kingdom on select nights between January through March. This hard ticket event will give you access to 25 attractions and character encounters – and even includes some food!

All the Food at Disney Springs

We’re Celebrating National Wine Day With First Look at Interior of Wine Bar George at Disney SpringsDisney Springs is opening up 8 new dining locations!!! You will now be able to dine at The Edison, 3 new Italian options and Wine Bar George! Foodies won’t want to miss all the amazing options Disney Springs has to offer! If you visit Disney Springs, we can just about guarantee you won’t leave hungry!

Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival

The 25th Anniversary of this beautiful festival will run February 28th through May 28th. This event features amazing flower and character topiaries, garden tours, the Garden Rocks music series and so much more. If flowers and gardens are your thing, this festival NEEDS to be on your bucket list!

Animal Kingdom Turns 20

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will celebrate it’s 20th Anniversary on Earth Day! We know there will be tons of fun in store to celebrate this event. As soon as we get more info, we will share it with you!

Toy Story Land!!!

Probably one of the most anticipated events of 2018 for Walt Disney World is the opening of Toy Story Land in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This land will feature 2 new attractions: Alien Swirling Saucers and the Slinky Dog Dash. There will also be a quick service dining option in this land.

Hotel Refurbs

Several Walt Disney World resort hotels are experiencing some growing pains with current and anticipated remodels. We know that some of these are just expected to spruce up the resorts, but others are making drastic changes, including Caribbean Beach. Look for more announcements to be in the pipeline as WDW anticipates their upcoming 50th anniversary of Magic Kingdom in 2021.

Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival

Back again, Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival will feature amazing food, wine, culinary demonstrations, beverage seminars and the very fun Eat to the Beat Concert Series!

All the Parties

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will both be back for 2018. These parties will feature special fireworks, parades, character meet and greets and so much more. Stay tuned for more info as soon as party dates are released!

This is just a small recap of things headed to Walt Disney World in 2018. It’s going to be an exciting year of growth for the Florida parks. What are you most excited about?

All About Fish Extenders

If you are sailing with Disney Cruise Line, one thing you need to consider is whether you want to participate in the Fish Extender group. What’s that? I’m so glad you asked!

All About Fish Extenders

Fish Extender groups are an organized gift exchanged between cabins. It is 100% voluntary, and you sign up several months ahead of your cruise. Outside each Disney cruise stateroom door is a small metallic fish, seahorse or starfish. Originally, it was designed for stateroom attendants to be able to leave messages for the guests outside their room. However, these ornaments were taken over as the perfect “hook” for hanging a Fish Extender, the basket per se, used for an organized gift exchange during your cruise.

How Do I Sign Up?

First of all, each Disney cruise sailing has a Facebook page where guests can get to know each other or ask questions before their cruise. Usually a travel agent or someone that has cruised several times with Disney is in charge. Search for your cruise date on Facebook and request to to join the page. Once you are accepted, if you would like to be part of the Fish Extender group, you simply fill out a questionnaire on your group Facebook page with various information about each person in your stateroom.

Here is the questionnaire from one of our sailings to give you an idea of what information you provide:

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Who Is In My Group?

Although it depends on each sailing, most groups close each group when they hit 10-15 cabins. After that, a new group is started. The Fish Extender groups on our sailings have closed with 12 cabins. As new “groups” are formed, they are usually given cute Disney names so everyone knows what group they are part of. Occasionally, FE groups are set up solely for adults. You may want to do an adults only group in addition to the regular group. Other groups may be for ornament exchanges, candy exchanges, etc. You can sign up for as many FE groups as you want to during your sailing, as long as you make sure to exchange with everyone. Once your group is full, you will receive a spreadsheet or information for each stateroom that you will be exchanging gifts with.

Here is our information to give you an idea of the finished result (click to enlarge):

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How Do I Make a Fish Extender?

Fish Extenders have pockets for each person in your cabin where everyone in your FE group can leave you goodies and gifts. The physical Fish Extender can be made from fabric, plastic or vinyl, and Etsy and Pinterest have tons of ideas! If you are into making your own, you just need to know that the fish extender shouldn’t be so wide that it sticks out into the hallway, or bumps your door. It is generally recommended that you loosely zip tie your Fish Extender to the fish so it won’t grow legs and walk away. We have used the Delta 4 pocket nursery organizer from Walmart for our trips. I hot glued pirate fabric to the organizer and tied a thick ribbon to the top and called it a day. Super easy and very affordable, and the large pockets were perfectly sized for gifts.

If you aren’t crafty, check out Etsy for tons of vendors that sell Fish Extenders.

What Do I Give Out?

Once your group closes, that is where the fun begins. Finally, you can now decide what kind of gifts you want to give to your new friends! We have in the past given out a cabin gift for the adults, and then individual gifts for kids and teens. First of all, decide on your budget and force yourself to stick with it. The cost can really add up, even with little purchases. Of course, only you can decide what you are comfortable with. 

Unfortunately, some people give just to the kids in a cabin, although this is very frowned upon. Make sure you give to everyone! Some people go all out and give individual gifts to every person in a stateroom; it’s up to you to decide. 

We’ve given out ice cream sundae kits for kids (super easy to do), as well as Disney coasters for adults. On our most recent Disney cruise, I did several cabin gifts for adults, including “Up” inspired keychains, Mickey picture frames, Disney music CDs, and Baymax first aid kits.Girls received Little Mermaid inspired hair brushes, hair ties and necklaces, and boys received pirate loot and Marvel earbuds.

If you consider yourself crafty, Pinterest has tons of ideas that you can use for inspiration. If crafting isn’t your thing, check Etsy for items you can purchase. Above all else, keep in mind this is about having fun – not seeing who can spend the most!

Keep In Mind

If you would like to be part of a Fish Extender group on your Disney cruise, here are a few things to know:

  • Gifts can be anything: from your part of the world, event related, Disney related – anything goes!
  • You don’t have to spend a ton of money. Be creative and crafty!
  • Allow for space in your luggage to carry the gifts on board, as well as carry your gifts back home!
  • Be aware of food allergies.
  • Personalized and handmade gifts are very popular!
  • Disney doesn’t allow you to bring homemade treats on board. Food and snacks must be commercially packaged.
  • Plan your deliveries – Disney cruise ships are enormous. Map your route carefully!

Finally, participating in the Fish Extender exchange sprinkles a little extra magic on your Disney Dream cruise. It allows you to “meet” people from all over the world. For us it didn’t matter what we received or how much people spent on us. We had so much fun making our gifts and delivering them around the ship. The boys loved to check to see if we had any new goodies anytime we went back to our room. No doubt it really made for a super fun experience for them. 

In case you missed them, here are a few links to other posts about DIY projects we have done in the past that would make perfect gifts:

DIY Fish Extender Magnets

DIY Clothespin Magnets

Seashell Picture Frame

Parks Map Ornament

DIY Painted Shirts

More Information

Find more great Disney Cruise Line tips and advice below!

Podcast Episode 74: What to do once you’ve booked your Disney Cruise

Disney Cruise Line: Know Before You Go

4 Things Not to Miss

Cruise Planning and Early Packing

What are your thoughts? Have you participated in a Fish Extender? Would you want to? Let’s chat in the comments!

Set Sail With The Pirates League Aboard The Disney Dream

Pirate Roo

The Pirates League

Ahoy me hearties! We recently returned from our second Disney cruise aboard the Dream, and wanted to share with you about a new experience we enjoyed. As if Pirates Night isn’t enough fun, we booked reservations for Tigger and Roo at The Pirates League on board the ship. This experience is available by reservation only for guests ages 3 and up on Pirates Party Night in the Bibbiddi Bobbidi Boutique. 

Pirates League Packages

Packages for the Pirates League are very reasonably priced and include not only a pirate makeover, but also Pirate souvenirs! Here is a breakdown of your choices:

All pirates need tattoos, right? Your little one will be given a tattoo on their hand, and if they are anything like my youngest, the pirate skull and cross bone tattoo will be a huge hit!

**Sidenote**I’m not sure exactly what to call the sweet cast members who do the makeovers for the Pirates League. I wouldn’t think they are Fairy Godmothers like at Bibbiddi Bobbiddi Boutique, but who knows. Maybe they are called wenches. **

The makeup process is fairly quick for the amount of product that is put on your children’s face during the makeover. New makeup and brushes are used on each child so you don’t have to worry about germs.

Keeping It Real

Just a friendly word of advice, the makeup used during the transformation is legit makeup. To put a positive spin on it, I would say that I was very surprised with how well the makeup stays on. This won’t be something that just flakes off. To give you a “keeping it real” perspective, we had to do some serious scrubbing to get it off, hence the scrub marks on my kids cheeks! Therefore, I would recommend bringing some very good makeup remover, baby wipes or coconut oil to help with the removal. Otherwise, you will end up making a trip to the spa before you disembark on Castaway Cay to try some of their specialty makeup remover so your 5-year-old doesn’t look like Jack Sparrow all day. Don’t ask me how I know this.

Pirate Oath and Loot

Your child will receive a sword, pirate sash, bandana, pirate necklace and earring after their makeover is complete. Once they have their pirate loot, it’s time to swear an oath of allegiance to the pirate code. My oldest son, Tigger, thought this part was hilarious. My youngest took it far more seriously. He still thinks he’s a pirate. 

We brought the clothes from home for Pirate Night, but they have options to purchase on board if you would like. The boys had a blast at the Pirate Party and got so many compliments on their looks. 

My boys didn’t think it could get much better than meeting Mickey on Pirate Night dressed as a Pirate!

captain mickey

Set Sail With The Pirates League

If you are sailing with Disney and want to visit The Pirates League don’t wait too long to book! You will want to schedule your visit as soon as possible due to the popularity of this experience. You can secure reservations during your online check-in, and the makeover takes roughly 45 minutes. Disney Dream

The Pirates League is a truly fun and memorable experience before the Pirate Party on board. My family would recommend it! Yo-ho Yo-ho, it is definitely a pirates life for us!

Easy DIY Painted Disney Shirts

DIY Painted Disney Shirts

Easy DIY Painted Disney Shirts

We recently got back from a whirlwind Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise vacation. I tried my hand at making my own Disney shirts for our trip, and was super pleased with the results, and knew I had to share this easy craft with you. We made so many cute and unique shirts for our trip with only a few hours of work. Once you figure out the method for these easy DIY painted Disney shirts, the options are endless!

What You Need

  • Freezer paper
  • Exacto Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Permanent Marker
  • Fabric Paint
  • Sponge Paint brush
  • Printed design
  • Tshirts (pre-washed with no fabric softener)
  • Iron

Make your own shirts for your next Disney vacation! Our tutorial is so easy, you'll be making your own shirts in no time. Follow these simple steps for an easy DIY painted Disney shirt.

Let’s Get Started

First things first, you will need to print out or sketch your design. I choose the sun from Tangled for one of my designs. There are tons of free images you can search for on the web. I found an image I liked on google, and printed out a few different sizes. If you are good at free-handing designs, you can sketch directly onto the freezer paper. If you are like me and not gifted in the art department, you can take the easy route and print the design.

Next, trace the image on your freezer paper with permanent marker, making sure you trace on the dull side of the paper, and not the shiny side. After you are happy with your traced image, use your Exacto knife to start cutting the design out. It can be tedious, but make sure to take your time, because this will become the stencil that you use to paint. 

 

The Fun Begins

On medium heat, iron your stencil on the shirt with the shiny side down. Make sure you pay close attention to the edges of the design and get a firm seal. This will make sure that no paint gets under your stencil, into an area you don’t want it. You can test how well your image is ironed down by lightly rubbing your finger nail over the edge of the design to make sure you spot any areas that aren’t well sealed. If an area is loose, just iron it down more. Once your image is ironed on securely, take an extra piece of freezer paper or cardboard and stick it inside your shirt. This will protect the back of your shirt from paint that will soak through.

Let’s Start Painting!

With your sponge paint brush, start by generously applying your fabric paint onto your stencil. I recommend Tulip Soft Matte paint; it comes in a ton of colors, and a little bit goes a long way. I found mine at Michael’s, and there are tons of colors available, including glow in the dark paint! I did all my designs as single color shirts, just for simplicity. You can easily make multi-colored shirts, just make sure the paint is dry and you apply carefully. Also, I found out the hard way that if the paint drips where you don’t want it, it’s too bad, so watch for drips!

Coat your design well, being super careful when you are applying the paint near the edges. You don’t want the paint to seep under under stencil.

Make sure that you have really good coverage, and let your paint dry for 20-30 minutes.  You can use a hair dryer on cool to speed the process along. When your paint is completely dry, slowly start to peel the freezer paper off your shirt. A pair pair of tweezers can be used to get an edge up on the freezer paper.

After you remove your freezer paper, let the shirt lay flat for at least 24 hours. Some fabric paints recommend that you wash the shirt inside out after 24 hours. I chose not to do this, and our shirts have held up just fine.

Using the method above of cutting out the stencil and painting the empty spaces, I made the Tangled shirt, a Mickey head silhouette, the Disney Cruise logo shirts pictured below, and some super cute Mickey anchor shirts. We got tons of compliments on our shirts, and the best part was knowing that I made them!

Another Option to Try

If you like, feel free to try and do the reverse! Iron down a solid image, and paint around the design. Leaving the Mickey head stencil in the middle, we painted around the edges with the eraser end of a pencil. Lastly, remove your stencil paper once the paint is dry. This will leave the Mickey design as a blank space, with the painted edges as a border. Super cute! This method would be very fun and easy for a child to do, and fun for a park bag! 

Easy DIY Painted Disney Shirts

Don’t worry if your design doesn’t turn out perfectly. It’s the fun, creative process that counts! Whether you need a Disney vacation shirt or just want a little magic around the house, this DIY project is fun for the whole family.