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

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.

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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

All About Toy Story Land

Slinky Dog Dash

What’s the “Buzz” on Toy Story Land?

Image result for toystoryland

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

15 Tips for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

15 Tips for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party has kicked off at Magic Kingdom, and a few of us were lucky enough to be at the first party of the year. If you are heading to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, we’ve put together some tips to help you get the most out of the party!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Maximize Your Park Time

This should be a no-brainer, but don’t leave early! Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a hard ticket event. This means that you’re paying specifically for the party. That said, you’ll want to make the most of your money spent by enjoying the entirety of the party. There’s so much to see and do, you’ll need every single second! Christmas party ticket holders can get into the Magic Kingdom is early as 4 PM, and if you stay until midnight, you can get in a full day in the park for much less than a regular day ticket. Furthermore, don’t leave too soon! Make the most of your merriment.

Bonus tip – take the morning off from visiting other parks, relax and enjoy a pool day or wander through Disney Springs. Get an early nap, and then head to the park by 3:30, so you can enter exactly at 4pm. You will be charged and ready to party all night long! You can even schedule a few fastpasses before 6pm!

 

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Catch The Second Parade

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is not to be missed. The parade runs two times during the party, at 8:30 and 11:00 pm. The first parade is definitely more crowded, so bypass that parade and knock out some rides or meet characters. When it is time for the 11pm parade, many of the crowd with young kids have cleared out. Bonus tip – some of the parade floats are scented, so remind your children to be using their noses to sniff the air during the parade!

 

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas PartyMickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Ride Rides

Because a limited number of tickets are sold, you are guaranteed lesser wait times for some of the most popular rides at Magic Kingdom, including Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We waited less than 20 min to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and 5 minutes for Space Mountain! Bonus tip – the park crowd really dies down by the end, and as long as you are in line for an attraction at midnight, you are guaranteed you will be able to ride, even if the party is over at midnight.

 

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

See Exclusive Characters

Party times are when Disney pulls out the high demand characters! At various places around the park you can expect to see all Seven Dwarfs, Moana, Jack Skellington as Sandy Claus, Scrooge McDuck, Santa Claus, Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps and more! Check out what characters are where when you arrive at the party, but don’t be upset if they change characters before your turn. Bonus tip – the lines for characters can be very long. If this is high on your priority list, try to schedule character times around the parade or other holiday shows.

Bust a Move

Nothing gets the party started like dancing with characters at the dance party locations! Bonus tip – practice your best silly dance moves and get into a dance off with a costumed character!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas PartyMickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Watch Holiday Wishes!

No one does fireworks like Disney, and Holiday Wishes will definitely not disappoint. It is a beautiful fireworks show set to very festive holiday music. We even got a little teary eyed! Bonus tip – if you can scope out a good spot directly in front of the castle for Holiday Wishes, stay there and catch the 10:30 stage show, and the 11:00 parade.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

 

Catch the Last Stage Show

Enjoy the last stage show of Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration. The crowd will be thinned out and you can score some great pictures up close! Bonus Tip – Pick a spot right behind the partners statue of Walt and Mickey and you will be front and center for the show!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Enjoy Sweet Treats

Stop at all the sweet treats stops and enjoy the yummy snacks that are complimentary! This year they have cookies, snow cones and even soft pretzels, hot chocolate, apple cider and eggnog! Bonus tip – be sure to bring a zip top bag to get extras and save them!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Use Your PhotoPass!

Make sure to stop and get party exclusive photo ops using your Photopass! Bonus tip –  don’t forget to get lots of pictures of you and your family or friends with the frozen castle backdrop and the Main Street Christmas tree! You may even have Tinkerbell added into some magic shots in her holiday finest!

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Catch the Snow!

Enjoy the “Florida snow” on Main Street during the party. It’s so beautiful and so much fun. Bonus tip – tell your kids not to try and catch the snow on their tongue…it’s really soap bubbles!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Shop ’til you Drop

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is the only place you can purchase exclusive party merchandise. Don’t miss it! Bonus Tip – Shop as soon as you get to the party. Party exclusive merchandise has been known to sell out quickly!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Frozen Holiday Wish

Don’t miss out on Frozen Holiday Wish because it only plays once during the actual party. This is THE show where Elsa uses her magical powers to freeze Cinderella Castle. Bonus tip – watch out for Queen Elsa’s other friends to make appearances during the show!

Choose Dinner Time Wisely

Plan dinner around when the first stage show or parade begins. The quick service restaurants will empty out as people move to enjoy the shows and parades. Bonus tip – Fill up on party goodies and choose a kids portion of nachos at Pecos Bill’s for dinner. You can thank us later!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Record Videos and Take Photos

Record videos and take lots of photos then combine them for a fun video you can watch with your family on Christmas Day! Bonus tip –  Take pictures WHILE you record a video on your iPhone by using that magic little button on the left hand side of your iPhone screen!

#VeryMerry

The official hashtag of the party is #VeryMerry. Make sure you are utilizing it on social media!  Bonus tip –  Have fun and upload a picture of yourself in front of the castle after it’s been frozen. You need to show your friends how much fun you are having!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

One more Bonus Tip!

Whether you are attending the Christmas party this year, or have it on your bucket list for a future trip to Walt Disney World, one thing is for sure….Christmas shirts, Mickey ears and even Christmas pajamas are all the rage! You can coordinate outfits and plan for a super cute Christmas card to send out when you get back home!

Have you attended the Christmas party? Have any tips you would like to share with us? Be sure to check out more fun Disney Christmas fun here on blog! For more Christmas party info, be sure to see this post and this post for more general Disney Christmas fun. If you’d like to get crafty then check out this post, and this post, and this post too!

Merry Christmas from The Mouse and the Monorail!