Can I Take Snacks Into The Disney Parks?


Disney allows guests to bring in snacks, meals and beverages into the parks and this option can be helpful to the wallet. Even if you are taking advantage of the Disney Dining Plan, you may still want to consider taking snacks into the parks for when those hunger pains hit between meals.

The rules of the park state that you must be able to carry your bags; so no coolers with wheels are permitted. Guests who bring in their lunches may wish to rent a locker for the day so they don’t have to carry it around the park. Lockers are available inside the parks for a fee of $9-$12. You will have unlimited use of your locker for that day, and can come back as often as you wish. There is a $5 deposit required for the locker key that will be refunded once your key is returned.

What should you bring into the park?

Do you have items that you want to keep cool? Bring along a cooler bag. They are easy to carry and many fold easily for travel. If you have a fridge in your hotel room, freeze some water bottles overnight and use them as your ice packs. Once you have enjoyed your lunch, you then have some water to enjoy for the rest of your day.

A family of 4 could easily pay $12 or more for one round of soft drinks or other beverages in the parks, so you may want to consider bringing your own. Be sure that any milk products or perishable juices are appropriately cooled with ice packs or those frozen water bottles…..because it gets hot pretty quickly in those parks.

Snacks that cannot melt in the heat are your best choice for a Disney Day. Goldfish crackers, pretzels, cereal and popcorn are just some of my suggestions. If a member of your party has a food allergy, bring some snacks along that they can eat. While Disney has some incredible options for all types of dietary requirements, the items may be on the other side of the park when you are ready to grab a quick bite and run to a ride.

When bringing lunch into the park, make it a simple meal. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are easy and can be prepared quickly in the morning. If you do not wish to make your own lunch, you could visit the quick service restaurant at your Disney resort hotel, pick up a few sandwiches, salads or snacks and put them in the cooler for later.

Bringing in your own food and drinks can be a significant money saver. During our last trip, my husband and I brought our own water and soda into each park and saved about $60 for the week… that was used for souvenirs at the end of our visit!

Money saving while in the most magical place is always a welcome treat!

Sparkling Dessert Party at Epcot



This month Disney introduced the IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party at Epcot. The event takes place Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights from 7:45 PM- 9:20 PM.

Admission to the party includes sweets from many of the nations featured in the World Showcase. Enjoy baklava from Morocco, shortbread cookies from the United Kingdom, tiramisu from Italy and a variety of ice cream treats. The party also features sparkling wines as well as standard beverages.

The event area is located across from the Mexico pavilion at the Port of Entry shop that resembles a customs house. The view is stellar…in fact in the past this was my favorite spot for viewing IllumiNations because of the wonderful view of World Showcase.

The cost of this experience is $49 for adults and $29 for children (you also need a valid park admission) and it is recommended that you reserve your spot 180 days prior to your vacation.

Is the Party Worth the Price Tag?

During peak park attendance dates this would be a nice option for families wishing to get a decent view of the fireworks; however there are many locations throughout The World Showcase Lagoon to see IlumiNations.

The party would be the perfect location for a special event celebration like an anniversary or birthday.

The downside is that this experience can be rather costly. If you have a large family, you may want to consider a private fireworks cruise that brings you into the World Showcase Lagoon. You can snuggle under some blankets, sip on provided beverages and enjoy an unobstructed view of IllumiNations.

Other Options

If you would like to see the fireworks from a prime locale, think about making your dinner reservations at a restaurant on the water close to the IllumiNations start time. This way you can enjoy the show and use your Disney Dining Plan to cover the cost!

There are several restaurants with excellent water views of the show. Note: When making your dining reservations you must ask the representative for a seating close to the start of IllumiNations.

The new Spice Road Table in the Morocco Showcase has outdoor café style seating right on the water.

La Hacienda de San Angel at the Mexico Showcase has tall windows that overlook the Lagoon. This is the perfect place to enjoy some margaritas and dine on fabulous cuisine.

Tokyo Dining is located on the second floor of a lovely pagoda and has a spectacular view of the fireworks. The window seating is limited; however this is a bucket list quality experience.

Create Your Own Event

Grab a margarita from Mexico or a beer from the UK cart and a treat from one of many little sweet shops in the World Showcase. (Check out the bakery in France)

Scope out a bench by the lagoon and listen to the sounds of the IllumiNations pre-show while enjoying your snack party. During our last trip we found a nice little place between China and Germany that had a bench and nice stone wall to lean on during the show.

Whatever option you choose…you will be sure to have a fabulous time. This show is unlike anything else in the parks and is truly a magical close to your Disney Day.

Healthier Dining at Walt Disney World


Is it possible to eat healthier at Disney?

Is it possible to eat healthier at Disney?

Those who have traveled to Disney before know that you are bombarded with food at every turn.

From baked goods to turkey legs….to popcorn and ice cream…snack temptations are everywhere. It is easier to gain 5 pounds over the course of your Disney vacation than to score a FastPass for Toy Story Midway Mania. (OK, that might be a slight exaggeration)

It is possible to eat healthier while on vacation without missing out on some of the treats that Disney has to offer guests.

Here are some of my tips for healthier eating on your Walt Disney World Vacation…

1. Plan your meals ahead.

Although Disney does not offer calorie counts for their food items (with the exception of the Be Our Guest restaurant) you can read through menus of restaurants to determine what meals are healthier choices.

While those famous turkey legs do not look like they are unhealthy, each has a whopping 1,000 calories! Look for menu items that include salads, fresh sandwiches, fruits, and grilled meats. Disney resort hotels have Quick Service restaurants that offer packaged fruits and veggies, yogurt, deli meats and other selections that are filling and have significantly less calories than their fried counterparts.

2. Consider one “big” meal a day and several smaller meals.

When we plan our vacations, we will reserve one sit down meal that acts as our main meal and we book it in the early-mid afternoon. Later in the evening we will have a smaller meal or sandwich after walking around the park all day.

3. Take healthy snacks with you.

Make up little snack bags before you leave your hotel in the morning and bring them into the park. When those hunger pains hit, you have a healthy alternative to sugary or high calorie snacks.

4. Drinking water makes you feel less hungry.

Bring some water bottles with you and a few of those one serving low-calorie drink mixes that are a great alternative to soda.

5. Eat meals in your room.

Use a grocery delivery service like Garden Grocer to fully stock up on breakfast foods, snack items, sandwich ingredients and beverages. Eating breakfast or lunch in your resort room can be a money saver and a much healthier option. For our next trip we are dining in our room for breakfast and several lunches and will be saving over $150. That’s some major souvenir cash!

6. Limit those sweet snacks.

I will admit…Disney cupcakes are incredible…and I have to indulge in one every vacation. They are large enough to share. So buy one, grab two forks and enjoy! The famous Dole Whip soft serve treat found in the Magic Kingdom has significantly less calories than one would think. A 1/2 cup serving (without the juice) will only run 80 calories….a much better option than a Mickey’s Premium Bar at 330 calories. Aloha!

7. Use a helpful app.

Prior to your vacation, think about downloading the My Fitness Pal app to your phone. It is free and will let you track your meals for the day. Some of the Disney food items are listed; however for those that are not, you can put in the ingredients and estimate the calories.

Would love to hear any tips or tricks you have for eating healthier at Disney! Please email me or share them here.

Disney Childcare Options

View of the Walt Disney World Swan From the Dolphin Hotel

View of the Walt Disney World Swan From the Dolphin Hotel

Family vacations are a great time to reconnect, have some fun and unwind. They are also the perfect opportunity for Mom and Dad to have a little alone time or a date night within the Walt Disney World resort.
Children’s Activity Centers located at select resorts throughout Walt Disney World offer a supervised play environment for kids. The centers offer a range of activities including games, crafts, movie watching and even dining! This is a fantastic child care option because it allows your children an opportunity to make friends and have some fun while you are enjoying some quiet time.

The Details

The hours for the centers vary; with the majority being open from 5:30 PM- 12:00 midnight.

Children ages 3-12 are welcome (ages 4-12 for Camp Dolphin) and must be fully potty trained.

Kid-friendly dinners are included in the cost of care and parents can make dining selections upon checking into the center. There is also an evening snack offered at 10:00 PM for those staying into the later hours.

Children’s Activity Centers are located at the following resort hotels:

Simba’s Cubhouse at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Never Land Club at Disney’s Polynesian Resort
Cub’s Den at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Sandcastle Club at Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Camp Dolphin at Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel

While reservations are not required for most of the locations, except Camp Dolphin, they are highly recommended….especially during peak seasons.

What is the Cost?

The cost of childcare is $11.50 per hour/per child with a 2 hour minimum; Camp Dolphin is $10 per hour/per child with no minimum.

Free Childcare

If you dine at one of Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort’s signature restaurants, you can enjoy free childcare! For each adult entrée purchased at bluezoo, Il Mulino or Shula’s Steakhouse, one child will be admitted for 2 hours of complimentary childcare at Camp Dolphin.

What about a relaxing spa day with your sweetie? The Mandara Spa at the Dolphin resort boasts a wide range of salon and spa services. For each spa treatment booked that is 75 minutes in length or more, Camp Dolphin will admit one child for 2 hours.

Have you ever used one of Disney’s Children’s Activities Centers? Will you be planning a date night for your next trip?


Caw! Caw! Roar!


Adventure is out there

Have you ever dreamed of going on an adventure like Carl and Russell from the movie, “Up”?  Searching the land for new discoveries and exploring the world around you? Consider making your wishes come true on your next Walt Disney World vacation. Here are some suggestions for the most exciting “Up” themed day at the resort.

“Caw! Caw! Roar!”

Begin your journey at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and become a Wilderness Explorer for the day. Pick up your free official Wilderness Explorers Handbook and earn badges by completing activities throughout the park. Disney cast members serve as your Troop Leaders and Badge Guides and help you along the way with some direction and answers. By finishing your tasks, you will learn about wildlife, culture and even recycling!

“Adventure is out there!”

Grab your grape soda pins and head on over to Downtown Disney to soar on the Characters in Flight balloon. This giant helium balloon takes guests on a tethered 10 minute flight up to 400 feet in the air. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Walt Disney World Resort and surrounding landscape.

Fly during the day to see up to 10 miles away, or at night to see the twinkling lights of the city. You can even plan your flight during the fireworks in the parks to further enhance your experience. Check your park map or My Disney Experience app for nightly fireworks schedules.

The Characters in Flight balloon does not fly during storms or if the wind speed is greater than 22 miles per hour. Guests under the age of 9 must be accompanied by someone 18 years of age or older. The cost associated with this experience is currently $12.00 per child and $18.00 per adult. The hours of operation are 8:30 AM- 12:00 Midnight.

“Chocolate, I smell chocolate!”

After your flight, grab a meal at the Rainforest Café in Downtown Disney and dine amongst a setting that will remind you of Carl and Russell’s destination; Paradise Falls. Enjoy the lush trees and tropical birds as you enjoy American-style cuisine. Russell’s bird friend, Kevin would approve of the Sparkling Volcano dessert. Made for three or more people, this giant chocolate brownie cake is served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate sauce!

After dinner, stroll through Downtown Disney, check out the shops and start planning your next Disney adventure.

Do you plan theme days for your Disney trips?

Saving Those Pennies For Disney

Our Disney Jar

Our Disney Jar

Since we have already paid the hotel bill in advance for our upcoming Disney Vacation, the focus has shifted to saving for meals and tickets for the parks. In our household, we have introduced the Disney jar. It is proving to be a great way to save money; in fact, it is so successful, that we may need a bigger boat…er, I mean jar.

Your Disney jar can be anything from a simple mason jar, to one of those large empty water cooler jugs. Make decorating your jar into a family event and use paint, stickers or even make a likeness of your favorite Disney character. Let your inner Bob Ross out for the occasion!

Here are some tips for filling that Disney jar:

1. Whenever a family member leaves change or paper bills in the laundry, the money goes directly into the jar.

2. Money saved through couponing or by using a store discount card is usually printed at the bottom of your receipt. As soon as you come home from your shopping trip, visit the jar and deposit an equivalent of the funds you saved.

3. Birthdays and holidays can mean monetary gifts from family. Try to save that money for your trip. (Another tip:  If family members ask for gift suggestions, Disney Gift Cards are an excellent option since they can be used throughout the parks and resorts.)

4. Anytime you see a penny and pick it up, put it in the Disney jar for good luck!

5. Yard sales are a terrific way to earn a little extra cash. Round up some items that you no longer use and have a family yard sale day. All the proceeds can go towards your trip.

6. Make saving into a game. Allow each family member their own jar and give a small prize to the person who saves the most money every week.

7. Make counting your Disney funds into a weekly family celebration. Create a tracking chart so you can see the progress of your efforts. Each week, choose a different family member to be the designated “Disney Jar Captain” who counts the money and writes down the total. Having a visual of the money saved will help to inspire additional contributions to the jar.

The most important part of the saving process…just have fun! Knowing that the end goal is to use that money for a magical vacation should be what drives the saving.

How do you save for your trip?  Do you have any tips that you would like to share?

Disney To Possibly Change Dining Cancellation Policy



There are rumors swirling online that as of the end of October, changes will be made to the cancellation policy for all Disney parks and resorts table service establishments. Currently only a select number of restaurants  follow this policy that requires a credit card to hold your reservation. This has not been posted yet to the Disney website, so please take this as just a rumor for now, but something to consider when planning your next trip.

What does this mean for you?

In order to hold your reservation for a table service restaurant, a credit card will be required. If you cancel less than 24 hours before your scheduled Advance Dining Reservation, you will be charged $10 for each member of your party. The reservations for dinner shows will remain the same; you still need to purchase the meal in advance and will be not be eligible for a refund if the cancellation occurs outside the specified timeframe.

There are several ways to cancel your dining reservations:

What is the reason for the policy change?

When guests change their plans once in the parks and miss or disregard a reservation, tables can be tied up that could have gone to guests waiting in line. Without a strict policy in place, guests were free to miss their reservations without a penalty, so there was no reason to cancel the reservation. With the new rule change, the hope is that guests will make the necessary itinerary changes within that 24 hour window to ensure that all guests are seated timely. It may also allow for guests without a reservation to score one of those coveted last minute reservations that become available the same day.


Will this new rumored policy change impact your dining reservation plans if it goes into effect?



Have Your Camera Handy When You Dine


Mickey cups

Disney Dining is always an experience, no matter which restaurant you choose. Special moments happen whether it’s a smile, or even a visit from an unexpected character. Taking a few seconds to unlock your phone, pull up a photo app, or prepare your camera could be mean a missed photo opportunity. During character meals, that initial glance from a Disney favorite may be a moment that you will want to remember forever…and having your camera on the table and ready to go…will ensure that you do not miss any of the magic!



Stay, Play and Dine


Disney Day Pennies- Winnie

If you were thinking about a Walt Disney World trip in 2014, I have some information that may persuade you to get on that phone immediately!

Disney has announced a Stay, Play and Dine offer valid for most days between January 5- March 5, 2014. Stays of three nights or more are required to take advantage of the offer. Your room, tickets and dining will be discounted 30% for the length of your stay. In order to qualify for this incredible discount, you must include both the dining plan and park tickets. The vacation must be booked no later than December 31, 2014 and excluded resorts include;  Art of Animation, Grand Floridian and The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness.

Call Disney today to book your vacation, or for additional details… (407) 939-7675.

2013 Candlelight Processional



Summer just started, so why am I talking about the holidays? When the weather is warm, it is sometimes difficult to think about the cooler winter months; however it is the perfect time to start planning a holiday trip to Walt Disney World Resort and getting those Advance Dining Reservations scheduled.

If you have ever been to Epcot during the holidays, you know that the Candlelight Processional is a holiday event not to be missed. You also know that the line to get into the event is generally long, which can result in very lengthy wait times. Even after waiting in the line, you still may not secure a seat for the performance.

Thankfully, Disney offers a Candlelight Processional Dinner Package that can be added to your dining experience and guarantees preferred seating at a performance and an exclusive viewing location for IllumiNations: A Reflection of Earth.

The Candlelight Processional is held nightly at 5:00, 6:45 and 8:15 PM in Epcot at the America Gardens Theatre. This year’s event will begin on November 29th and run through December 30th.

The Candlelight Processional features a 50-piece orchestra and mass choir accompanying a celebrity narrator who reads the story of the Nativity. The celebrity narrators were announced this morning when the packages became available for purchase.

This year’s Candlelight Processional narrators are:

11/29- 12/1- To be determined
12/2-12/3- To be determined
12/6-12/7- Whoopi Goldberg
12/8-12/10- To be determined
12/11-12/13- Dennis Haysbert
12/14-12/16- James Denton
12/17-12/19- Edward James Olmos
12/20-12/22- Trace Adkins
12/23-12/15- To be determined
12/16-12/28- Blair Underwood
12/29-12/3- Amy Grant

** Narrators are subject to change**

The Candlelight Processional Dinner Package for 2013 went on sale today, and will be offered at the following Epcot restaurants:

 Biergarten Restaurant
 Chefs de France
 Coral Reef Restaurant
 The Garden Grill
 La Hacienda de San Angel
 Nine Dragons Restaurant
 Restaurant Marrakesh
 Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room
 San Angel Inn Restaurante
 Teppan Edo
 Tokyo Dining
 Tutto Italia Ristorante
 Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria

The cost for the Candlelight Processional package varies and will include either a three course meal or a buffet; depending on the restaurant you have selected. The cost of admission to Epcot is not included in the package.

Please call 1-407-WDW-DINE for additional details and to make your reservations. Due to the popularity of this experience, it is recommended that you make your reservations as soon as possible.

Is the Candlelight Processional part of your holiday tradition? Please share your special memories and any tips you may have about viewing this performance.