Thursday, May 31, 2012

Special Needs and Disabilities at Walt Disney World


Traveling to Walt Disney World can be stressful for any family. Adding a child or family member with special needs can magnify the stress, but I've got some advice and tips to make it a better trip. I've traveled with special needs kids on many trips and have talked to other parents about their trips and advice they offer.

Guest Assistance Card


One of the most frequent questions we get is about the Guest Assistance Card, or the GAC. The GAC is issued at Guest Services in all four parks and is provided as a means to help guests that have issues (mobility, sensory, sun, etc) and need to bypass a major queue or use an alternative entrance. The GAC does not grant immediate access and it should never be used for that reason. The individual castmember can make the decision about when to get you on the ride (for the most part, you enter the Fastpass queue and are treated like a Fastpass return).

How Do I get a Guest Assistance Card?
Getting a GAC is a simple process:
  • Visit Guest Relations in one of the four theme parks with the child or person that needs the GAC.
  • Explain to the castmember that your child has special needs and you would like to know about the Guest Assistance Card.. You can provide a medical note or documentation if you feel it better addresses what your child's needs are and how they can best be met, but a cast member should not specifically ask for this information.
  • The cast member will ask for the child's name, dates of your vacation and the number in your party (up to six guests).



How Do I Use a Guest Assistance Card?
  • If you are not sure where the appropriate entrance is, ask the greeter or first host from the attraction that you see. usually, you will be directed to the Fastpass line or the Exit, depending on the attraction. There have been times that my family has been asked to use the regular queue since there was less than a five-minute wait.
  • You will need to show each cast member the GAC, until you reach a certain point (usually when the Fastpasses are collected). The cast member could ask if the child is with you.
You shouldn't feel guilty about using the Guest Assistance Card while at Walt Disney World. Real life is stressful enough for families with special needs and a Disney vacation should be an enjoyable experience. Disney provides the GAC as a service to help you enjoy your vacation with your family.
What if I Lose Our Guest Assistance Card?
Head to the Guest Services location in the park and ask about a replacement. I have been able to run to Guest Services to get a card while my wife sat with the kids. it was never a hassle, but the cast member might want to see the child.

Researching and Planning the Trip

Rides:
There are a lot of great resources online and in print that will help you plan your trip and decide how to approach your vacation. One of our favorite sites is Disney On Wheels. Melissa shares a lot of information about accessibility option for ride vehicles and hotel rooms.

Sometimes watching an attraction can make a child feel better about riding it.
One of our favorite guidebooks is The Complete Walt Disney World by Julie Neal and Mike Neal. The Neals break down each attraction and give you a good idea of what to expect.
Searching Youtube for ride videos is another great way to learn more about the rides and parks. You know your child better than anyone else and you know what rides could frighten or cause sensory problems.
Food:
Make sure to check out menus to decide on which restaurants will offer the best food choices. AllEars updates their menus frequently.

You can always check with your travel agent or call the restaurants ahead of time to ask about special foods or ingredients. Many people have told me that the chefs will come out and talk to you about ingredients and will go out of their way to prepare the food that you need.

If you have special foods that your child needs, instead of packing them, you can have them shipped to your hotel by Amazon or use a grocery delivery service. If you are unsure what foods you will find at Walt Disney World, then you are better off being prepared and bringing your own (like specific juice boxes, snacks or treats).
You are always welcome to take small coolers into the parks with you, just remember that you can't bring in glass bottles or alcohol.
Medicine:
You will want to keep all medications with you when you travel, but there will be instances when you might forget or lose something.

Your best bet, at the resort, is to call or check with the front desk. They will have lists of pharmacies that will deliver or mix custom medications. It is expensive and they might need to get a prescription, so make sure you have your medical provider's phone numbers.

In the parks, you should head towards the First Aid location or Guest Services. The first Aid locations are staffed with nurses and they can offer first line help.



There are plenty of chain pharmacies in the area, like CVS, Wal-Greens and Target. If you don't have a rental car, check with the front desk for options.

Don't forget that any prescription medications should be kept in a labeled container. Security hosts are very reasonable, but they will question pills and syringes/needles.

When we had to take a custom-mix medication for my son, our local pharmacy made a special envelope for us to keep it cool throughout the day.

Know Your Child

The most straightforward advice is to know your child.

You know their sleep habits, foods, cranky moments and situations that could cause a melt down. Plan your trip with those thoughts in mind and everything will be simpler. Even though you might want to see and do everything at Walt Disney World, it simply isn't possible on a normal six day vacation. I have been visiting Walt Disney World for over 20 years and there are still things I haven't seen.

Stick with sleep/nap schedules and build in as much down time as you can.

Break Times:
There are plenty of areas in the parks that will give you some semi-private space for a few minutes rest or to let the kids burn off steam. You just need to keep an eye out or ask a friendly cast member. One of my favorite areas in the Magic Kingdom is a small courtyard to the right of the queue of Pirates of the Caribbean. It offers a bit of shade, but there is a wide space to spread out or take care of a child for a few minutes.


Keep an eye out for other areas where you can sit in the shade, enjoy a snack and take a few moments to relax.

Food:
Remember to feed everyone on a regular basis. Pack snacks that are easy and simple to hand out or keep an eye out for favorite Disney snacks.

We had a few meltdowns with our oldest son that could have been remedied with a snack or two. Because we were too busy trying to enjoy the parks, we didn't see his mood slip until too late and then it was about 45 minutes before he was back to normal.

What Next?

Talk to your favorite travel agent or ask your friends online. There are plenty of WDW Facebook pages where you can talk to people that love Disney and can offer great advice.

  • Know your child,
  • Start planning and researching,
  • Ask for help.

Do you have any advice you share about traveling to Walt Disney World with special needs?

What are some of your favorite tips?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cosmic Ray's Restaurant Review



At last count, there are seven quick-service eateries at the Magic Kingdom, with a few more open seasonally.  With that many choices, it can be a tough decision to decide where to eat. While there are some locations we avoid like Pinocchio's Village Haus, Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe, where you can get the usual standbys like burgers and chicken nuggets, plus rotisserie chicken, ribs, and healthy sandwiches, is a favorite among the writers here at Everything Walt Disney World.




Atmosphere:

Cosmic Rays is a large, sunny space with plenty of seating. There are three "bays" where different types of food is served. Although we really like the food and the atmosphere, the three bay approach is a real turn-off. Here's why: if your family wants different types of food from different bays, then you have to split up to order, pay and wait for the food or make several trips. Imagine trying to keep up with several kids.


You almost need a matrix to decide which bay to visit and why! On a recent trip, we marveled at the choices available in some lines but not others.
  • Angus Burger: Bay 2 (Burgers) or Bay 3 (Sandwiches)
  • Grilled Chicken Sandwich: Bay 1 (Chicken) or Bay 3 (Sandwiches)
  • Barbeque Pork Sandwich: Bay 1 (Chicken) but not Bay 3 (Sandwiches)



Food:

Kids meals at Cosmic Ray's are the same as everywhere on property: Nuggets, smaller burgers, and fries or fruit (usually grapes).  Adults can get the usual burgers and nuggets as well. We are not huge fans of fast food burgers anywhere on property: They're usually tasteless hockey pucks that require you to pile on toppings to make them remotely flavorful. If you do decide on a burger, the toppings bar is huge, with all the usual fixings, plus sauteed mushrooms and onions. Disney being Disney, the toppings bars are usually immaculate despite the crowds that throng this location.



The simple turkey and cheese sandwich is quite good. While we sometimes marvel at how bad the bread and rolls in Disney quick-service locations, can be, this bread actually had flavor and tasted fresh. This sandwich is large and filling, so if you don't have a huge appetite, consider splitting it with someone else.



One of my favorite things on the menu is the chicken and ribs plate, but sadly, it's no longer being served as of a couple of months ago. (Edited to add) It's back! Thanks to one of our readers for pointing it out. You can still get the same tender, flavorful rotisserie chicken, garlic mashed potatoes and crispy green beans for just under $10. It's an excellent buy on the dining plan and big enough to share, but we certainly hope to see the ribs return some day.




The grilled chicken sandwich is a decent choice for people that are tired of burgers. It's served plain but you can add lots of toppings at the self-service bar. When I dug into this sandwich, I was a little disappointed in the flavor and the bun was very dry. It looked fluffy but it was not. I ended up using more condiments than normal.

As always, if you're on the dining plan, we advise against getting the dessert that comes with you meal and opting for a cold bottle of water, fruit, or a container of yogurt instead. 

Entertainment:

Cosmic Ray's is the only Magic Kingdom eatery (until Fantasyland opens) with entertainment. Sonny Eclipse, an audio-animatronic space lounge lizard performs in the enclosed dining area that faces the Tomorrowland Speedway. He performs a 25-minute loop with a small break between. The songs are charming and based off of familiar standards with different lyrics. The jokes happen to be pretty corny, too.

We've been going to Cosmic Ray's for years and will continue to go: It's consistently one of the better quick-service locations on property. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fall Free Dining Rumor Hits the Internet Like a House on Fire.


Why yes, don't mind if I do. 

By now you've probably heard that there's a pin code out for free dining in the fall. Here are the details:

  • For arrivals most nights 9/30–10/4/12; 10/19–11/1/12; 11/9–11/15/12; 11/23–11/29/12; 12/10–12/13/12.
  • Book now through 7/28/12.
  • Excludes 3-bedroom villas and the All Star Music Suites; the Art of Animation Suites are included.
So far it doesn't look like this email contains an actual "pin code" with numbers. Rather, you'll just call Disney or your travel agent and they'll verify that you are the holder of this promotion. We're not sure why there are no actual codes and there's no word on why things are a little different this time.

I think you'll see this offered "soon" to the general public, but I don't think it will happen until packages come out in June. It's also possible that when it is released, it will include dates up through March 2013.  Last year's massive free dining offer came out in early August but we've seen it offered as early as July 5th in the past, so expect it any time.

I do think that it's possible that when the general public offer is released, Thanksgiving weekend will be completely blocked out (you'll notice that it's available under the pin offer), so just be wary when you make your plans.  If you've seen the 2013 bounce back offer, it should look a lot like it.

As usual, if you want to be included in our mailout when free dining comes is released, send me an email at ChrisW@PixieVacations.com. We promise not to use your email address for anything other than the purpose of informing you of the promotion.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Picking a Disney Resort that Fits Your Budget.



Yacht and Beach Club Pool.
Copyright Disney.

It's easy to get caught up in the hype when it comes to picking a Disney resort, especially if you're planning far in advance and you spend time on Disney message boards.  There's a lot of information out there, but at some point it all comes down to your wallet: What can you afford?  Here are five tips for staying within your budget while


1. Pick the resort you can afford right now, no matter what happens.

Here's why this is so important:  Disney value and moderate resorts fill up faster than deluxe resorts, so they're harder to get closer to travel. This is particularly true for certain discounted rooms, such as those under free dining.  If you feel that a value most fits your budget, go for it even though you have months to save for that deluxe room.  Chances are good that if you have the extra money a couple of months prior to your trip, you can easily switch to a more expensive room, even keeping your discount in the process.



Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

2. If you're worried about cost, you're probably spending too much. 

Everyone feels a little bad spending money on a hotel room. After all, it's just a place where you rest when you're not having fun. That's normal. But if you're starting to feel really uncomfortable with the cost, you're spending too much.

You're probably thinking to yourself "Chris, why do you sound so cranky about this issue?"  Okay, maybe you didn't think that at all, but let me explain anyway.  In my experience, the clients who are the most likely to cancel are those who book deluxe resorts.  I've often wondered if those clients would have gone to Disney World if they'd had a less daunting $2200 price tag facing them at the 3-month mark than a trip that costs $5800.  It seems to me that the worry over cost takes a lot of fun out of the planning experience and leads some guests to just cancel entirely.

3.  If you get in over your head, let your travel agent or Disney know as soon as possible. 

This can save your deposit or, as noted above, make it easier to find an alternative resort, but just as importantly it can also help you avoid Disney's $50 change fee.  What, you haven't heard about that?  Well, whenever you lower the amount of your package 45-days or less prior to travel, Disney can charge you a $50 change fee, so try to make any changes to your resort reservation prior to that time.


Disney's Pop Century Resort.
Copyright Disney.

4. Don't believe the hype.

The right resort for you is the one you can afford. It's that simple. Yes, staying at a deluxe is amazing and often times, it's more convenient as far as location to the parks is concerned. But if you're so worried about cost that you can't relax, what kind of vacation is that?

5.  All Disney resorts are clean and offer the same level of service.

I think this is actually one of the biggest fears guests have about staying at the values.  If this is your concern, put those worries away:  I've never noticed a difference between the different resort levels.  In fact, I secretly think cast members at the values try a little harder.

Bottom line, pick what you can afford and avoid all the hype. Planning should be about the fun anticipation of your trip, not worrying about the cost. If your circumstances allow it later, by all means, upgrade if that's what you want. But you're going to be a lot happier and a lot more likely to travel if you stay within your budget in the first place.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ohana for Dinner.



Located on the second floor of the Polynesian Resort, just steps from the monorail, Ohana is a large, family-style restaurant serving grilled meats with pan-Asian flavors that borrow from the cuisines of China, Hawaii, and Japan.  Think soy sauce-based sauces with hints of sugar, coriander, and garlic. The effect can range from delicious to cloyingly sweet, but there's plenty of it, all in a festive, family-friendly atmosphere.

Food:

As soon as you're seated your server will bring you bread and butter. The bread is a sweet, Hawaiian-style bread and that's warm and fresh, but try not to eat too much of it: There's a lot more to come.





A simple tossed salad of romaine, radicchio, and spinach comes drizzled with a light, honey-lime dressing.  The crisp, fresh taste of the dressing makes this salad one of my favorite parts of the meal.





 After the salad your server will bring you chicken wings with a honey coriander sauce and pork dumplings


The wings are meaty and tender with perfectly crisp skin, however the pork dumplings don't fare quite as well. On every visit, I've found the dumplings to be overcooked to the point where the wonton is hard and crunchy, which is a shame given that  the spicy filling has a pleasant, gingery kick.  I'd love to see these dumplings gently steamed and then given a quick sear in the pan.  Lo mein noodles round out the appetizer portion of your meal. They come with steamed broccoli florets which, if my observations are correct, are largely ignored.

The lo mein noodles are so addictive you might find yourself reaching for multiple portions, although by now you've probably noticed that just about everything on the menu, including the noodles, is sweet. I love sweet and salty foods but if you don't, you might want to pass on this restaurant.  Fortunately, you can cut what starts to seem like an unrelenting parade of sugar with the sauces that are brought to your table.


After the appetizers, you're ready for the meat portion of the meal, which your server brings out on a large skewer, using a knife and pushing your serving into a bowl (which serves to anchor the skewer as well as holding your food) at the base of the skewer.  There's no order in which meat is brought to you table; it's based on when they come off the grill, although shrimp seems to arrive last. On our last visit we started with the oak grilled chicken. It's not easy to keep chicken breast juicy but they've managed it here with this marinated grilled chicken.  It's the least sweet of all the meats, with the deep, nuanced flavor of a soy sauce and sesame oil marinade.



Of all the meat, the pork fares the least well. On each visit it was slightly dry and too sweet. I enjoyed the beef, but the majority of my table mates thought it was too sweet.  At this point, I may have stopped  noticing since at that point, everything had started to taste the same.  The shrimp was a welcome change, as it was still juicy from being cooked with the shell on and was not overly sauced or spiced; you could actually taste the flavor of the shrimp itself. It's wildly popular judging from the piles of shells on some guests' plates, so if you want to indulge, you'll need to  ask your server to bring more.



Everyone enjoyed dessert, which was a bread pudding with caramel sauce (most often with sliced bananas) topped with scoops of ice cream. I'm a huge fan of caramel and this sauce, which was a simple brown sugar sauce with cream, butter and vanilla, was delicious. I could eat this every day and not get tired of it. The pudding is very sweet (shocking, I know), so you may want to ask for extra ice cream to cut the sweetness a bit.


Ohana means "family," but my husband and I always joke that it actually means "meat."  Obviously, this can be an issue for some guests. Fortunately, the kitchen is very accommodating.  Kids who are picky eaters will do fine here as chicken nuggets, fries and macaroni and cheese are also available.  They can even get a separate dessert. Vegetarians or those with dietary restrictions should consult with the chef for a separate entree.  Regardless of your preferences, you won't leave Ohana hungry.

Service and Atmosphere:

Ohana is loud and fun, making it ideal for an end-of-trip celebration dinner when you're feeling just a bit sad about leaving Disney World. The room is dark, with small, very bright, overhead lights punctuating the darkness and creating an unpleasant spotlight effect on some of the guests. Almost all of the tables have views of the pool and the Magic Kingdom and Cinderella Castle beyond through a large bank of windows.  If you're dining later at night, ask for a table near the windows so you can see the fireworks, but even tables in the middle of the room have a great view.

Service is both enthusiastic and haphazard. We recently waited 45-minutes for a glass of wine and drinks were never refilled, but the steady stream of food was unrelenting, at least until we got to the "meat" portion of the meal.  Your server will bring out skewers of chicken, beef, pork and shrimp to your table throughout that portion of the meal, but there can be very long waits between servings. This is particularly true if you have a large table. On a recent visit there were eleven of us, all adults. Our server ran out of meat halfway through each visit to our table, so one side of the table was always watching the other eat. 

After dinner, consider going down to the beach to watch the Electrical Water Pageant or the fireworks. This resort comes to life at night, with gorgeous lighting illuminating the exotic landscaping.  There are plenty of places to sit and have a quiet drink from the bar or for a romantic stroll. 


This photo is the property of Tom Bricker.
You can see more of his work at

Getting a Reservation at Ohana:


Guests love a good bargain and at one table-serice credit on the Disney Dining Plan, Ohana is fits the bill. This is part of the problem. When Le Cellier, easily the most popular restuarant on Disney property, went to two table-service credits for dinner, Ohana took its place as the number one table-service dinner location.  Make sure you get your reservation as close to the 180-day mark as possible. If you're planning late, don't give up hope. You can still opt for a late seating (say, after 9:30) or keep calling close to travel in the hopes that there will be cancellations. Finally, Ohana requires a credit card guarantee to reserve a spot. Your card won't be charged but there is a $10 per person fee for no-shows so make sure you cancel one-day prior to your reservation.

Ohana is a restaurant with some occasional bumps, but like a lot of guests, the pluses outweigh the minuses for us, making it a must-do every trip. It's the kind of place that feels special enough for date night, but still casual enough that you won't have to worry about rambunctious kids--your own or someone else's. The fun atmosphere could easily easily bring anyone out of the end-of-trip blues, at least temporarily.  And while it's true that I would love some savory additions to the menu, I still love the food.  In fact, I'm wishing I had some of that bread pudding right now!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Cruise: Be a Jungle Cruise Skipper


One of the most coveted jobs for wanna-be Magic Kingdom cast members is being a skipper on the World Famous Jungle Cruise! Not all of us can move to Orlando and take a job at Walt Disney World, but there is a way you can be your own Skipper on the Jungle Cruise during your next vacation!


Located next to the exit of the Jungle Cruise is Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Cruise. Shrunken Ned's is a way for you to unleash your inner skipper by piloting your very own remote control Jungle Cruise boat.

You still have to provide your own jokes.
I'm your Jungle Cruise skipper today. You know the difference between a Captain and a Skipper, don't you? The Captain goes down with the ship...

You have to use tokens and there is a machine nearby that will accept one and five dollar bills. Pop in the token and you're off! You can move forward and backward as you take your tiny boat on your own three-week cruise.
Wave at all the people on the dock.... 'cause you may never see 'em again. Of course, you've never seen 'em before, so you aren't gonna miss anything.


Tikis with gaping mouths and a river full of pointy spears block your way as you navigate the perils of the Junior Jungle Cruise.
We have other dangers like monsoons, rapids.. WATERFALLS! Everybody on this side, ya wanna lean in! (looking at other side of boat) You guys... jump out. Lean in! Lean in! C'mon... please.... Dive, dive.....


Watch out for the volcano and the secret elephant bathing area!
It's ok to stare, by the way, they've got their trunks on...


The boats are even named like their full-size counterparts. I like this mini-attraction because it is a great way for the kids to have fun and feel like they are doing something exciting (and a little dangerous). It gives the parents a brief respite before the next attraction, too.
Hey look everybody! It's Chief Nammie! He's your head salesman here in the jungle. As you can see, business has been shrinking a little lately. He's got a great deal goin' on...two of his heads for one of yours. Any takers? Aw c'mon! No matter what the size, you come out ahead! You know the old saying...two heads are better than one!

This could lead us to more danger. This could lead to a dead end. Or, it might be like everything else, and lead us to another gift shop!
Have you ever done Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Cruise?

Any other places you like to take a fun break for a little while?

Heard any good jokes lately?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Free Dining for September Ends May 18th Plus a New Gift Card Offer.


Just a quick reminder that free dining for August 25th through September 29th ends on May 18th.  We're not sure if Disney will offer another free dining discount for those dates although past history indicates a smaller number of rooms will be released again for this time period, along with a broader offer through March of the following year (with black out dates, of course).  Expect that offer to come out sometime after mid-July.

As usual, we're offering a FREE Disney gift card when you book with us, but since it's the last week, we're going to bump up those offers a bit. Book now for free dining for those dates only and receive: 
  • A $35 Disney gift card and tote for bookings $2500 to $3000.
  • A $50 Disney gift card and tote for bookings $3001 to $5000.
  • A $75 Disney gift card and tote for bookings over $5000.  
  • Clients who book a package worth $1200 to $2499 aren't out of luck. 
We're also offering $25 gift card for client referrals you send us worth $2200 and up. Here are the rules:
  • Gift cards do not apply to Pixie exclusive offers.
  • Package totals do not include airfare.
  • Gift cards are based on a per package price, so if you book two $2500 packages, you'll receive two $25 gift cards.
  • Gift cards are for new bookings and must be booked by May 18th.
  • You must mention this gift card offer at the time of booking (although we'll probably remind you because we're nice that way).
  • These gift card offers are exclusive to us and not part of an offer by Pixie Vacations or the Walt Disney Company.
Package amounts are based on the final amount at travel, not on the day you book. Applying a discount can change you gift card amount.

Contact me, Christina Wood, at ChrisW@PixieVacations.com or call 919-889-5281.


 

Win a Dooney And Bourke Handbag or a $100 Gift Card.



Hi, everyone. Once again I've teamed up with a great group of bloggers to offer you another contest. Just click all the buttons in the Rafflecopter link below and you could win one of the following:

■“A Disney Dooney” – The Dooney & Bourke Balloon Mickey Mouse Mini Barrel handbag, shown above in black. This purse has a $100 value.


■A $100 Disney Gift Card

The contest runs from now until June 1st at 12:01 and is open to U.S. and Canada residents only.


The first person chosen by Rafflecopter that has met all the contest requirements will win the Dooney and Bourke handbag, and the second person chosen that meets all the requirements will win the $100 gift card.   You must "like" every link below to qualify, even if you already like the page:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please remember that all the buttons must be clicked or your submission is not valid.  Good luck!
Special thanks to MouzeKateerz for organizing this great giveaway.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bringing Disney into Your Kitchen.


I love to cook, but sometimes even I don't want to be in the kitchen. I wonder if these cute kitchen supplies would help on those days?  I already own the Mickey cookie cutter, which I used to make gingerbread cookies at Christmas.



Pretty cute, right?  I think I might need a Mickey whisk too.





Or maybe a cute little Mickey scrubber?


Adorable mugs in all the right colors.



Paying homage to Storybook Circus and Dumbo for those with little ones.


You say you always wanted a picture of Bob in an apron? As you wish.


The Popsicle molds have an attached straw so you can get every last bit out of the bottom.



Correct me if I'm wrong, but is Mickey running away from doing the dishes?



I really like these plastic Mickey tumblers in a retro pattern.


And finally, for those who like your Mickeys a little more subtle.


You can get most of these items in MouseGears in Epcot's FutureWorld, in the Magic Kingdom at the Yankee Trader Gourmet Shop, and at World of Disney in Downtown Disney, as well as in other larger shops in and out of the parks.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Counting Down to Your Next Disney Adventure



Please welcome guest writer Melissa. You can check out Melissa's writing and pictures at her blog, Picturing Disney.

One of the best parts of planning a Disney vacation is when you are all done! By that I mean when you have paid off your package, booked all your tours, booked advanced dining reservations, checked the park schedule and plotted out which extra magic hours you are going to hit.  How do you deflect all the excitement and adrenaline from your impending trip?
Here are a few of my favorite things to do!
Countdown Calendars!

I love to create countdown calendars! Whether it is a link chain or a poster this is a fun project to make and use to count down until your trip starts! Here’s a link to my craftsy project page for a DIY calendar: http://www.craftsy.com/project/view/Disney-Vacation-Countdown-Calendar/37666


Fun Fact Texts
When I was heading out to Walt Disney World with my husband and a  few friends, I thought it would be more fun to text them daily updates. So each day they got a text that said “We have ___ more days until Disney.” Followed by one of the Fun Facts below based on how many days we had.  I am not sure where these originally came from because I got suggestions from some friends on the Passporter forums--I think they are probably from some of the Walt Disney World Trivia books!
0.  Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World uses zero real stones but is instead completely made of steel and other building materials which do not easily wear down.
1.  There is only one kind of gasoline vehicle allowed in the Magic Kingdom’s utilidors—an armored car that picks up the cash each day.  It is such a tight fit the driver only had 4 inches on the sides of the car to maneuver!
2.  Walt Disney World is the 2nd largest purchaser of fireworks in the entire United States! They are second only to the US Military!
3.  Soarin exhilarates your sense of smell with 3 different smells: orange groves, pine trees, and ocean breezes!
4.  There are a total of 4 Walt Disney World Railroad trains to take you on a relaxing tour around Magic Kingdom Park.
5.  The big drop on Splash Mountain is 5 stories!  You drop of a total of 52.5 feet on your final drop into the Briar Patch!
6.  There are 6 different theaters in Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress!
7.  On Test Track the technician isn’t sure if guests should be exposed to #7, which is the corrosive conditions test!
8.  At 8:05pm on October 31, 1939 the Hollywood Tower Hotel was struck by lightening.
 9.  When World Showcase first opened there were only 9 pavilions ( Morocco and Norway were added later).
10. On The Backlot Tour enough water shoots out in Catastrophe Canyon to fill 10 Olympic size swimming pools!
Pack
I know, I know, who is so crazy that they pack as a countdown?  The answer: this girl right here.  About two weeks from my trip I start stacking some Disney shirts in the closet and setting aside my favorite flip flops or my park cutoffs.  I don’t quite take out my luggae that early but I usually dub a dresser drawer the Disney drawer or grab a small laundry basket and call it The Disney Box!
As the trip gets closer, I start adding all the things I plan to bring, whether its my favorite guide, my personal fan or toiletries I grabbed while grocery shopping.   By the time I get about a week out The Disney Box is literally bursting with pre-vacation fun!
Disney Meals & Movies
Planning to eat at Tony’s Town Square?  How about a Spaghetti night while watching Lady and the Tramp?
Looking forward to a drink at La Cava de Tequila?  How about a homemade Plato Mexicano?
Can’t wait to try the new Star Tours?  How about an original trilogy marathon and some cookies made with the awesome Williams Sonoma cookie cutters for dessert!
The great thing about the rides atDisney is the way they are so mainstream and accessible.  You can easily make a Disney themed meal or afternoon.
There is so much to do to build memories and excitement before you even leave for a Disney vacation-no wonder it’s called the Happiest Place on Earth!

What are your favorite things to do before a trip?