Happy Thanksgiving, MiceChatters! Our family has so much to be thankful for, but I’m taking this column to list my Walt Disney World gratitude, then I want to know yours in the comments below!
I’m sending my grateful vibes now because the FastPass we know and love may soon be a thing of the past. When I was a kid at Disney, there was no FastPass. We stood in long lines and liked it!! Eh, not really, but it gave us a lot of time to talk amongst ourselves. I remember standing in line for Tower of Terror not long after it opened with a bunch of girlfriends. It was hot and sweaty and miserable. It was worth it to say I conquered the tower, but I’m so glad we’ve been able to experience Disney with FastPass this past decade since I’ve been on the planning side of things. And I hope to continue to be able to use FastPass on the spur of the moment and not planned months in advance…are you listening, Disney?!?
2. Baby Care Centers
While we don’t visit these sweet little corners of the parks too often anymore, they were invaluable to us when the kids were little. It was a nice place to change a pull-up or eat a snack in peace or just sit and watch cartoons for a few minutes. In fact, we even used it as a grandparent care center once. The grandparents, needing a break themselves, took the kids in for a while to cool off and have a snack. Often empty, at least in our experience, these somewhat unknown respites proved to be well-utilized by our family when we had toddlers in tow.
Get Park Wise: Forget something for Junior? Baby Care Centers offer almost anything you need for purchase from diapers to baby food to formula and even over the counter meds.
3. Extra Magic Hours
Whether pulling visitors away from our scheduled park for the day or allowing us to grab a nightcap at Epcot, extra magic hours have been a nice perk of staying on property. We rarely make it for morning extra magic hours these days, but a lot of visitors do, and we know to hit a different park. While evening extra magic hours can be busy, especially, we noticed, at Hollywood Studios, they’ve been very good to us when staying in the Epcot resort area giving us time to stop in France for a slush before turning in for the night or one more ride on Soarin’ on the last evening of our vacation.
4. Single Rider Lines
Expedition Everest six times in about thirty minutes. Enough said.
5. Electrical Outlets
I’m thankful that Disney doesn’t restrict use of the outlets in common areas and now even offers charging stations! With all of the smart phone apps, picture-taking, texting and calling in the parks, those batteries drain quickly. We carry around portable chargers but when we’re stopped for lunch or taking a breather, it’s great to be able to get a quick jolt to keep you going.
6. Character Meals
Even as we’re approaching those pre-teen and teen years, my little mouseketeers still love spending quality time with their favorite Disney pals. The niece won’t admit it in front of her friends, but she still runs up to Stitch for a big hug. Character meals offer the opportunity not only to hang out with some of their favorite characters, but we get to do it without standing in line, in air-conditioning and while feeding our faces.
Get Park Wise: Reservations are strongly…STRONGLY…encouraged for character meals. If you’re hoping to dine in Cinderella’s Castle or with Mickey and the gang at the Contemporary, start calling or checking online for reservations as soon as you can.
7. Disney’s Magical Express
Included in your stay and oh-so-convenient, this shuttle between your Walt Disney World resort and Orlando International Airport is a great option for families not renting a car or who don’t have their own transportation (and who don’t mind being held captive by a giant mouse for the duration of their vacation). For me, the vacation truly begins when we plop down in those sparkly seats and breathe a sigh of relief.
8. Resort Package Delivery
We make no apologies about it. The women in my family are shoppers, and the ability to send our packages back to the resort has been great for us, especially since our stroller days are over, for the time being. Depending on how close you are to checkout day, you can send your items back to your resort and pick them up at the resort gift shop the next day. If you’re staying club level, they’ll even deliver your purchases to your room whether you’re there to receive them or not.
Get Park Wise: Not staying at a Disney resort? The parks will also hold your packages until the end of your day. These packages make their way to the front of the park for convenient pick up on your way out of the gates. To utilize this or resort delivery, simply let the cast member know at the register when making your purchase.
9. Family Appeal
Our family travels a lot, and we always enjoy a trip to any destination, but there are some destinations where the kids prefer to hang at the hotel or visit the pool, or we all head different directions to do our own thing. Walt Disney World is different. While we hang at the pool or the resort when at Disney, we often do it together because it’s part of the Disney experience. Sliding down a volcano or jumping around the sinking sands is something we can all do together. We all enjoy the offerings of the parks and resorts, and our Walt Disney World vacations really give us that “family vacation” feel.
While I’m an advocate of planning as much of your vacation as you can stand, sometimes you just have to let the magic happen. You can’t plan the gift of a Mickey bar from a cast member at just the right time. You can’t plan witnessing a non-verbal Wish child’s interaction with his favorite monster. You can’t plan perfect weather for your children’s first trip to Walt Disney World. You’re at Disney World. Plan what you can, then let the magic take over.
This is a time for gratitude and happiness, so let’s play nice in the comments today, friends. No harassing other members for their favorite things. I have a delete button, and I’m not afraid to use it!
So, what are you thankful for at Walt Disney World or Disneyland or both?