Guest Contributor: Amanda-Slightly Addicted

It’s time for another of our brand new guest contributor posts!! Thanks to all our new contributors and be sure to give her some comment love!

 

Hello everyone! I’m Amanda, and I’m a new contributor to The Mouse & The Monorail. I know a lot of you are probably like me and a little addicted to the magical world of Disney. Where else can all your worries be washed away and you can be like a kid again?  I began my Disney addiction at the young age of 2.  My family tried to get us down to Orlando every other year.  I remember the days of the 20,000 Leagues under the sea, The Skybuckets, Mickeys Toontown Fair, and the days of paper tickets!  While I miss all the old rides,  they have replaced them with some great ones!

I got married in 2004 and our honeymoon destination was none other than Disney World.  My husband had never been, so I was excited to share it with him.  We opened and closed the parks every day we were there and came home exhausted after the 9 hour drive.  My hubs said, “I hope you enjoyed that, we are never doing that again!” Well our first Anniversary, Disney offered an amazing deal, so yea…we went again!  And then the next year another fabulous deal.  Do you see a pattern here?

So here we are now in 2015….2 kids later, we have managed to visit the world every year except 2007, but we made up for it and went twice in 2008 and twice in 2014.  I have seen Disney when I was 8 months pregnant (ummm wow!), I have taken kids as young as 3 months old, and vacationed with friends as well as grandparents.  We have stayed in the Value resort almost every time, used the Dining plan or the Quick Service Dining plan, and ventured to several other “optional” experiences.  We try to see and do a lot for all ages and we have fun every time!  I cant wait to share adventures with you all, and I hope each of you can get a little more addicted with me!

Now, I’d like to share with you a little advice based off of the questions I have been asked over the years.

image1

Traveling with children -I hear so many people say “My kids are too old for Disney” or “My children are too young, they wont remember it.”  Well I can say I have taken my son yearly since 9 months old and my daughter yearly since 3 months old, and they both have remembered rides since they were around 2 years old.  Disney makes it easy to travel with children, and they even make them free up to 3 years old!  If you are thinking its like Six Flags and they cant ride anything, you are in for a treat.  At 3 months, my daughter was able to ride at least 85% of the rides at Disney.  Of course she couldn’t ride the major rides, but there is a lot more that babies and toddlers can ride than people think.  Some of the rides I was able to wear the baby carrier on, and others I held her in my arms.  I would say the fastest moving one is Toy Story Mania and we had her in the carrier for that one.  The rides they can’t ride, Disney offers a rider swap option.  This works as a FastPass for the parent staying behind with the little one.  That way if you have other kids, you can take turns riding with them, without waiting in line twice!  So believe me when I say, Disney is a park for ALL ages.  Your kids are not too young or too old for Disney (unless they are a few weeks old, then I understand!)

image2

Best time to visit – I would say the Best time to visit for lowest crowds is September.  For overall best Experience – November or December (excluding the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas.)  September is awesome for riding as many rides as you want and they usually offer Free Dining during this time.  However, the heat can get to you and sometimes its pretty rainy as well!  November and December – Great temperatures, the crowd level is up a little but its manageable.  Many times Free Dining is offered certain dates.  The Christmas lights though, are AMAZING!!!  And if you are going around this time, try to take in the Very Merry Christmas Party too!

image3

 

image4

Best place to stay –  There are amazing properties all around Disney.  Offsite vs Onsite – I am onsite all the way!  I love free parking, buses constantly running, extra magic hours, magic bands, get your FastPass picks earlier, free dining promotions, need I say more?!  Now that you know I say onsite, what is the best Disney hotel to stay at?  This depends on your budget and how you vacation.  If you are going to hit the park in the morning, lounge around the hotel and sight see some and enjoy some downtime, then I would recommend a Moderate level resort or above and check their amenities.  If you are going to Disney to see the parks and go to the park every day….you probably just need a value resort!  If you are like us, we open and close the parks so we only see our hotel room to sleep and shower…the rest of the times we are in a park.  It would be a huge waste of money for us to look at a Deluxe hotel, even though they are awesome, because we are not around the hotel enough to take in the amenities that make it worth the extra money.  So consider your plans before choosing a hotel. 

 

Hope this helps a little bit! I look forward to sharing more Disney magic with you! ~Amanda

 

Thanks for the great post Amanda! If you’d like to become a guest contributor, simply shoot us an email at mouseandmonorail (at) gmail (dot) com! We’d love to feature you too!! ~M º0º 

Top 5 Know Before You Go Tips

photo(8)We at Memory Makin’ Moms are unapologetically obsessed with Disney, hence this little blog of ours. We plan and research all the aspects of our trips, and when we get back, we start dreaming about our next trip. We have had lots of questions from first time WDW park visitors lately on our FB page from parents and grandparents that are planning their trip, and they honestly don’t know where to begin. I got to thinking about it, and came up with this list of the top 5 “Know Before You Go” tips to share with newbies, or people that haven’t visited in a long time. Here goes!

.

1. Plan your trip! Sounds basic, right? Wrong. Gone are the days of showing up at a Walt Disney World park with no game plan in mind, and expecting to see and do everything in the parks. You need to have a plan. For our family, that involves a touringplans.com membership which helps us map out the parks, and plan our route to avoid the crowds. It is worth every penny for the membership for the amount that we utilize our touring plans in the parks.

.

When planning, do research on the rides. Don’t just assume that because it is a Disney attraction, that it is suitable for all children. If your child is deathly afraid of the dark, then Stitch’s Great Escape is NOT the attraction for you. If your child has never done a roller coaster, chances are you don’t want to put them on Expedition Everest for their first experience. Pull up youtube and watch some videos of the rides together and see what their interests are. My son loved The Haunted Mansion, but I know other kids have been scared by it. When planning out your rides, make sure you utilize rider swap if you have a young child that won’t meet the height requirement, and an older child that can’t live without that ride. Rider swap ensures that everyone leaves happy, especially the child that gets to ride twice!

.

2. Book Dining Reservations! Decide which restaurants your family would like to eat, and book reservations 180 days out. If reservations aren’t available, keep checking periodically and see if time slots open up. Please, please, please don’t be “that” person that walks up to Cinderella’s Royal Table and expect to walk right in and be seated. It’s not going to happen, and you don’t want to have a devastated little girl on your hands expecting to meet the Princesses. If you want to eat a sit down restaurant on Walt Disney World property,  you need to have reservations. If you don’t want to bother with reservations, there are loads of counter service restaurants that you can choose without any of the reservation hassle.

.

3. Book FastPass+! Disney no longer utilizes the paper fast passes. You need to log in to your Disney account 60 days prior to your trip and book your FastPass+ reservations for the rides/attractions that your family considers your top priorities. If time selections aren’t available for your top choices, keep checking. Chances are something will open up before your trip. Don’t give up!

.

4. Choose your hotel and tickets! Do you want to stay in the park, or do you want to stay off property? WDW resort guests can utilize extra Magic Hours to get into the parks early or stay late, as well as free transportation within the resort. This works great for our family, but you might have a timeshare that you want to utilize when you are in the Orlando area. Do you want to stay in a value resort with basic amenties or in a deluxe resort? Only you know! We love staying at Pop Century, but the Grand Floridian might be more your speed.

.

As far as tickets, we choose park hopper passes meaning that we can bounce from park to park during the same day, but you could also choose to buy the base ticket which only allows entry to one park per day. If you are able to visit for a week or so, the base ticket might be a good choice since you can take your time in the parks more than we can when we only visit for 3 days. With our limited time, the park hopper ensures that we can maximize our experiences, but someone not in a rush might not benefit from the additional cost.

.

5. Know Your Needs! You need to know what your family really wants to do to make this a memorable vacation. We want to squeeze out every bit of pixie dust from our WDW vacations, so for us that means that we arrive to the parks an hour before they open, and we are always first in line to get to the parks. That doesn’t work for every family, but our kids rise with the chickens, so they are ready to go! Have little ones? You might need to factor in time to return to your hotel room during the middle of the day for rest time. Night owls? You need to know which nights the parks are open late. If your kiddo is a huge princess fan, then you need to do your research to see what princess experience she would love the most. If budget is a concern, you can search our blog with the search button at the top of the page for loads of money saving ideas. No, you can’t do every single thing at the park, but that’s the beauty of Disney World…it will still be there when you come back!

.

Planning a trip to Disney takes research, but it doesn’t have to be a burden. Don’t be afraid to ask, ask, ask! Talk to moms, dads and anyone that you know has been to the parks in the last few years about their experiences. We have a dedicated FB group that would be happy to help you in any way possible, or you can email us with your questions at memorymakinmoms (at) gmail (dot) com.  We love Disney so much, and want to spread the pixie dust in any way possible. You can have an absolutely amazing trip to Walt Disney World with a little bit of effort, and I promise it will be the trip of a lifetime! Toodles! ~A ºoº

Etsy To The Rescue!

Everyone wants for their kiddos to look super cute on their WDW vacation, but sometimes it is hard to know where to start when planning those looks. Today I wanted to share with you a couple of etsy vendors that I’ve used for our Disney purchases and can personally vouch for the quality of their work. Let’s get started!

flight Our Mickey silhouette with number shirts were bought from Maggie’s Castle as iron on transfers for $3 each. I picked the fabric I liked, and then ironed them on to solid shirts I bought from Michael’s. Easy-peasy, and the shirts held up well even after being washed, and were a huge hit for the airplane ride to Orlando.
familyMy favorite Disney related etsy purchase would have to be our Mickey tie-dye shirts from Swirly Sensations. They are a custom tie-dye vendor, and their shirts are amazing. I picked our shirts out for our trip 2 years ago, and all I had to do was pick the colors I wanted and they worked their magic. Then, on our trip last September, I wanted to get shirts for my parents and Roo. She couldn’t guarantee that the colors would be an exact match because of how the dyes are mixed, but they were perfect! We got so many compliments on these shirts, and they look so bright and colorful in pictures. Love, love, love!ring

I purchased this Minnie Mouse ring and matching bow earrings from Monster Bakery for Roo’s birthday party next weekend. They are so cute, and for only $10 for the set, what’s not to love? I can’t wait to wear them for all my Disney related events!

So those are a few of my favorite Disney etsy purchases that I wanted to share. Remember when searching for etsy vendors for any purchase to make sure you read the reviews to see if their previous customers were happy with their purchases. You can definitely find some super cute Disney related items on etsy for very reasonable prices. That makes this Memory Makin’ Mama one happy camper! Happy searching! ~A ºoº

 

Walt Disney World Survival Kit

SpaceshipEarthIMG_9865-EditI’m a planner by nature. Ask anyone who has ever traveled with me! If I could take the kitchen sink, I probably would. That being said, no one likes to feel like a pack mule when you are traveling around the happiest place on Earth! So I got to thinking about my top 5 must-have’s for a day at Walt Disney World. Here we go!

1. Zip lock bags: I travel with lots of gallon sized zip lock bags in my backpack. Anyone who has been to the Orlando area knows about the pop up showers that occur almost daily. Usually in the afternoon, they pass over quickly, but they pour tons of water! So I carry zip lock bags to store all our valuables in during the rain. From wallets to cell phones, I can throw it in our backpack really quick, and carry on as usual. Definitely a must-have!

2. Ponchos: Head to the dollar store before your trip and stock up on cheap ponchos. I bought 1 per person, per day. Throw the ponchos in your backpack, and after the inevitable afternoon shower, throw the poncho away and the next day add your new ponchos. If you forget a poncho, they do sell them in the gift shops around the parks, but they are $$$. A little planning before you hit the parks can save you lots of money to spend on more Disney souvenirs!

3. Sunscreen: Please don’t be THAT parent that forgets sunscreen and ends up with sunburned kiddos. Disney World is about fun, not the misery that a sunburn brings. And don’t forget to reapply frequently, especially after Splash Mountain or Kali River Rapids!

4. First Aid Kit: Head to the travel section at Wal-Mart, and they sell palm sized first aid kits for .97. Get one. Or two. It has bandaids, some neosporin, and a few other things in it. Yes, all the parks have first aid areas, but who wants to take the time to run all the way across the park for a bandaid because your kiddo tripped in Adventureland? Throw this in your backpack, and you will be on your way in no time after kissing that boo-boo! Also, grab a pack of moleskin from the foot care section, and throw in a small pair of cuticle scissors into the first aid kit. If you feel a blister coming up, cut out a small section of moleskin and apply over the blister. It will keep it from rubbing, and you can continue to walk miles and miles pain free! We have done this on our trips, and it was a lifesaver!

5. Baby wipes and hand sanitizer: Even if you have potty trained kids, you never know when a small pack of baby wipes could come in handy (like cleaning hands and faces after a Mickey Ice Cream bar, or a Dole Pineapple Whip!) and hand sanitizer because there are sometimes when you aren’t close to a bathroom, but those grimy hands need a good scrubbing.

So that’s my top 5 list of must-haves in Walt Disney World. Did I miss anything you always pack? Leave your thoughts in the comment section! ~A ºoº

The Wait is Over! MMM’s Disney Planning Printables

They’re finally ready! I’m so excited to finally be able to share these with you all. This has been a fun project and definitely look for us to update this in the future!

 

So, wait no more! You can download the MMM’s Planning Printable here. It includes the customizable cards for each day and a single reference card that features qr codes to easily scan while in the parks for useful references like our abbreviations reference page, as well as Disney help, and myDisney Experience. There’s even a code that will call Disney Dining for you in case you need to make a last minute change within the parks!!

2014-05-07 23.53.43

We hope you’ll enjoy these and please, help us share these to as many Disney families as we can! Thanks!

Before I go, I’d like to say to be sure to stay tuned for tomorrow’s post as well! Sarah is going to finally get our helpful references page up and running (it has its own qr code on the printable, but won’t be live until her post goes up tomorrow) and I can’t wait to have all of those links right there for you all. Well, that’s about it I guess. Let me know what you think of these and be sure to post photos if you use them! I’d love to see 🙂 ~M °o°