September 6, 2014

Giveaway: $25 Disney Gift Card AND Minnie Watch


Get excited!! One of our favorite agents, Christina Moore, is back with a fantastic new giveaway! One of our lucky readers will WIN a $25 Disney Gift Card AND a Minnie Watch (pictured below.) Who wouldn't want to wear some fancy Disney bling-bling on their wrist?! Well… ok guys, you're off the hook - but you can still enter to win and give it to the lovely lady in your life!


We interviewed Christina back in November of 2013. She's a Disney Vacation Planner with Mickey Adventures, just had her 3rd baby (Congratulations!!) and has a great sense of humor. She's always a pleasure to speak with - so if you're looking for a no-fee Disney Vacation Planner to help you out, contact Christina or visit her on Facebook!!

Giveaway
As mentioned before, Christina's giving away the Minnie Watch AND a $25 Disney Gift Card to one lucky winner. This giveaway begins Sunday, September 7th (2014) at 12:01 a.m. (eastern) and will run for one week, ending Saturday, September 13 at 11:59 p.m. This giveaway is open to residents of the USA, must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Good luck!!


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September 3, 2014

Tips for a Stress Free Walt Disney World Vacation


I'm not sure if it's really possible to relax while at Walt Disney World. In fact, we usually come home more exhausted than when we left.  However, there are ways to relax and have a more stress free Disney vacation. 

1. Plan ahead - Part of planning a stress free Disney vacation is planning ahead. Dining reservations can be made 180 days in advance, FastPasses can be reserved 60 days in advance for resort guests and you can even check-in in advance at your resort. Planning early will get you the best reservations for your trip.

2. Arrive early - Don't forget, not everyone had planned as much as you and may be interested sleeping at bit while at Disney. (silly, silly.) We know that getting to the parks early is your BEST BET to avoid crowds. You'll be amazed how much you can get done in the first few hours a park is open, even on the most busy days. Plan on arriving at least 30 minutes before the parks open, if not earlier.

Welcome show at the Magic Kingdom

3. Avoid the crowds - This may sound like a joke, but it's possible to avoid some crowds at Disney. This starts as early as choosing your dates for your trip, but is also key when choosing which park to visit each day. Think about what is drawing people to a park on a given day.
  • Are there Extra Magic Hours that will draw in thousands of resort guests? (Hint - you'll want to avoid that park.) 
  • Is there a nighttime special ticket event at a park that will cause it to close early that day? People who are not park hopping will be more likely to choose another park that is open late, therefore lowering crowds during the day. (Hint - that's the park you want to go to.)
  • Is there nighttime entertainment that evening at a park that isn't being offered other nights during the week? (Hint - unless you want to go see that entertainment, you're better off at another park.)
4. Take breaks - Part of the plan with arriving early is also knowing you will need a break. My family always arrives at a park before it opens, stays until early afternoon and then heads back to the resort to rest. My husband and kids like to swim and I usually head to the resort shops, since I can "shop Disney" all day. We then head back to the parks around dinner time feeling refreshed and ready for our evening.

5. Use a Travel Agent - Even the most seasoned Disney traveler can benefit from an authorized Disney Vacation Planner. They don't cost any more than booking with Disney directly and offer endless advice for Disney vacations. They can book all of your reservations as well so you never have to lift a finger.

6. Bring a STROLLER! - We have a stroller that is only used at Walt Disney World. Other than at Disney, my kids walk everywhere. But, at Disney, the walking is extreme and the crowds can be extreme and the heat can be extreme. It's a lot, even for an adult. Having the kids in the stroller means less stress for them and therefore less whining for you to deal with.

7. Take a deep breath - The key is to remember, that no matter how much you plan, there is stress with any vacation and especially a vacation that may be a once in a lifetime trip. The heat will get to you, or the crowds, or someone will bump into you with a stroller. Try to take a deep break, look around and realize that you are at Walt Disney World! After you return home, you won't remember the heat or the craziness. You'll just have wonderful memories of a truly magical place.

What are your best tips for a stress free Disney vacation?

Happy planning,
Amy

September 1, 2014

Interview with Book Author, Shelby Pickett

Meet Shelby Pickett, author of the new book series The Ultimate Disney Parks Scavenger Hunt Book Series "Exploring the Magic Kingdom". Check out Crissy's recent interview with Shelby, below!

WDW Hints: Thanks for agreeing to an interview! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Shelby: I've always had a love for all things Disney, and the detail that has been put into each of the parks. I've also been a big fan of Scavenger hunts my entire life.

WDW Hints: Tell us about your new book series The Ultimate Disney Parks Scavenger Hunt Book Series "Exploring the Magic Kingdom".
Shelby: My new book series starts with the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, and takes you on an exciting journey to uncover the hidden features and details placed in the park. From 6-106, it is something singles, couples, or families can do together to see the parks from a completely new point of view.

WDW Hints: What made you choose to begin the series with the Magic Kingdom?
Shelby: I began the series with the Magic Kingdom since it is the first park built at Walt Disney World. The second will cover Epcot and so on. The books for Walt Disney World will follow the order the parks were built. There will also be a book for Disneyland Park, and California Adventure that will be out later this year.

WDW Hints: What inspired you to write books about Disney?
Shelby: They always say write about what you love. Disney is my favorite topic, and a place I have loved since an early age. Writing about it just seemed to come naturally.

WDW Hints: Can you tell us about something that we will find on our scavenger hunt in the Magic Kingdom?
Shelby: You will discover hidden areas of the park not normally visited, bits of Disney history, and a greater understanding of the amazing detail Disney puts into the show elements and architecture.

WDW Hints: What is your favorite attraction at Disney?
Shelby: This is a tough one. My favorite attraction would have to tie between Peter Pans Flight and Journey into Imagination with Figment.

WDW Hints: Who is your favorite character?
Shelby: Another tie! Stitch and Dumbo.

A big thank you to Shelby Pickett for taking the time to answer some questions for us. WDW Hints is looking forward to reviewing his first book Exploring the Magic Kingdom. Be sure to visit him on Facebook!

August 30, 2014

Giveaway: A Christian's Guide to Walt Disney World Resort (autographed book!)

For those of you that only visit our website (and haven't heard through social media), we wanted to inform you of our current giveaway going on! One of our lucky readers will win an autographed copy of A Christian's Guide to Walt Disney World Resort by Jeff Chaves. Check out our Book Review and Giveaway article to enter! Good luck!!  =)


August 25, 2014

Trip Report: The Turner Family! (July/August 2014)

We figured it would be fun to start a new series written by YOU - our fans! What's the new series, you ask? TRIP REPORTS!!! Fill us in on crowds, great food you ate, hints that helped you, new hints you learned and anything else you want to report on!! Send your trip report (with a few pictures, if you want) to: Terri (at) wdwhints.com (You don't have to be a writer or a blogger - just simply tell us about your trip and we'll turn it into an article!)

The Turner's Family Fun!
My family and I just got back from our WDW vacation July/Aug 2014 and I wanted to share a few awesome hints we discovered for others that may be planning to visit soon. We stayed at Disney's Port Orleans Riverside and traveled with our 3 kids (ages 14 and 4 year old twins), my Mom and Sister - totaling 7 of us - one big family vacation!
The Turner Family

  • We stayed on site during our trip and made it our goal to open each one of the 4 parks. (Arriving at each park about 30 mins before opening) Magic Kingdom was the best!
  • Fast Passes are a MUST! (It cuts wait time dramatically.) Try and get your Fast Pass for the "Must have" rides as early as you can. Once you use them, you can visit a Fast Pass Kiosk and get another for other rides/shows or the same ride/show, use it and get another, so on and so on ALL DAY! (I think we used 6 or 7 for all different rides and shows in one day alone and had minimal wait times.)
  • We opened Epcot and headed straight for Turtle Talk with Crush and on the way stopped at the Character Greeting spot in the breezeway and Mickey, Goofy, and Minnie were waiting for us with only 2 people inside. NO WAIT! Amazing! Easiest character meet all trip. It took 10 minutes to see them all and we still made it to Crush on time. (Turtle Talk was TOTALLY awesome too.)
  • Drink plenty of water. It's hot! Just stop by any eatery/snack shop with a soda fountain and ask for a cup of water. They get one for you at no cost!
  • Talk to the cast members while you are there (in line, waiting on restroom breakers, etc.) I met some really interesting people and they shared some great tips about rides, shows, and told good stories while I waited for all of my crew to meet up. (They told me things like which rides had a single rider line, what rider swap is, and I even asked someone about George in the Pirates ride.)
Extra Hint: In addition to a free cup of water from most quick-service/snack stands, many Table Service Restaurants are now offering complimentary cups of water in their lobby (with and without lemon.) Just peek inside any restaurant to see if they've got water available for guests! If you don't like the taste of Florida's water - you can always buy a filtered water bottle ahead of time (they really do work and remove that bad taste.)

Thanks to the Turner family for sharing which helpful hints worked for them on their trip!! We're glad you all had a magical time!


August 13, 2014

How to Secure a FP+ Lunch Reservation at Be Our Guest

With FP+ making constant changes and going through continuous testing, there's bound to be changes that we'd love to make you aware of! Here's the latest on Be Our Guest...
What is Be Our Guest? (Info for the newbies…)
Be Our Guest (BOG) is a newer, and very popular restaurant in New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. Themed after Beast's castle (Beauty and the Beast) and serving French fare, it's been a crowd pleaser for over a year! Be Our Guest serves as a quick-service restaurant for the Lunch time hours, and a Table Service restaurant for Dinner (not open for breakfast.) So far, Be Our Guest is the only restaurant to offer a FP+ reservation to onsite guests for the Lunch hours that will allow guests to skip waiting in line as well as pre-order their food. This special FP+ does not count against your 3 allotted FP+ attraction reservations - it's a Bonus! 


Most Recent Changes: (as of Aug. 13, 2014)
  • For onsite guests, A lunchtime FP+ for Be Our Guest can be reserved 27 days in advance of the day you'd like to eat. (i.e. On September 1st, you may make your FP+ Lunch Reservation for Sept 28th. Any day after Sept. 28th will show as "unavailable"until you're within that 27 day window.) The '27 day' rule seems to be the latest formula Disney is using - but it's always subject to change as we've seen '45-60 days in advance' as well as 'one month prior' for acquiring this particular FP+.
  • For offsite guests, or those that missed out on FP+ reservations, Be Our Guest is also testing a paper-fast pass distribution for walk-ups with out a reservation. They are handing a small card with a return time. It's best to arrive earlier (10:30 a.m.) than later to better your chances at receiving a return time 'fast pass.'
How to Reserve a FP+ Lunch Reservation:
  • Visit: https://beourguestlunch.disney.go.com/
  • If you're within 27 days of your planned BOG Dining date (not your check-in date), go ahead and select the day you'd like to dine at Be Our Guest for Lunch.
  • You'll be given 2 time frames to choose from. Don't like them? Hit the refresh button and two new time frames will appear… just keep refreshing until you find the time that you like!
  • We suggest choosing the "Direct to Table" option. It'll allow you to pre-select your food now and you'll be able to by-pass the ordering kiosk at the restaurant. You can always make changes to your meal selection after-the-fact.
  • Follow the prompts to pre-select your meal for each member of your party, complete the reservation and you're all set!
Quirks in the System:
  • If your reservation number doesn't work at login, try finding it by using one (or more) of these steps: 
    • If you have a room only reservation, you'll find it at: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/trip/my-vacation/ 
    • You might try using the # found on your Magical Express luggage tags (though, these numbers can differ from your reservation # as well.)
    • If you purchased Memory Maker, you'll find the # within your package info.
    • If all of the above fail, get your geek-on and follow these steps:
      • Log into ‘My Disney Experience’ and hover over "Online Check In"
      • When the URL pops up (usually in the lower-left hand corner of your screen), copy the series of numbers that appears within the URL. That's the number to use for your reservation.
      • IF hovering doesn't work, go ahead and 'click' on Online Check In (even if you’ve already checked-in online - no worries, it won’t reverse any check-in info.) Watch your URL address bar, a link should appear with a 12 digit reservation number - but it may appear quickly then re-route to a new URL… just keep pressing the 'back' button and quickly try to write the number down as fast as possible. The 12 digit # is just what you need for the Be Our Guest lunch reservation fastpass.
  • Another quirk is that you may or may not receive a confirmation email about your FP+ Lunch Reservation. To be on the safe side, take a screen shot of your final completion screen, print and bring it with you. No confirmation # will be given, nor is it linked to the My Disney Experience app with your other FP+ Reservations, so do not be alarmed when you cannot find it there.
  • You might hear that the FP+ reservations are by email invite only. It has been working for everyone, not just those with an invitation.

That's it! We hope you enjoy your lunch at Be Our Guest. Mind your manners and remember to be a gracious guest! ; )


August 12, 2014

Dial® Coconut Water Refreshing Mango Body Wash GIVEAWAY (and Review)

New Dial® Coconut Water Refreshing Mango Body Wash (whew - that's a long name!) is something you've got to try! It's infused with coconut water, which is known for it's hydrating antioxidants and electrolyte components.

Review
As with any body wash, the Dial® Coconut Water Refreshing Mango body wash lathered up nicely on my loofa sponge and was easy to spread. The smell of this body wash in the shower is fabulous! It rinsed off nicely, and getting out of the shower my skin did not feel overly moisturized but not dry either. It leaves you feeling clean and smelling nicely of a hint of coconut. I received a full-sized bottle, and will use it for the months to come!


Disney
What does body wash have to do with Disney?! Not too much - lol! I don't have any special Disney hints or tricks to use with body wash, but I do recommend using this body wash if you're headed to Disney sometime soon. After a long day in the parks, walking in the sun, working up a nice sweat… I'm sure your family and all other Disney guests would appreciate you showering off and coming out smelling like coconuts & mangos! It really is a wonderful smell.

Giveaway
Dial® has provided me with 3 coupons each for a FREE bottle of Dial® Coconut Water Refreshing Mango Body Wash (11.75 oz. or larger) to give to one lucky winner! (Note: These coupons expire September 30, 2014.) This giveaway is running NOW (Tues Aug 12) through Thursday, Aug. 14 - closing at 11:59 p.m (eastern.) Open to residents of the USA.


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Disclosure: The Dial® brand provided me with a free sample of Dial® Coconut Water Refreshing Mango body wash in exchange for a product review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

August 9, 2014

Book Review: The Thinking Fan's Guide to Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom

The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Walt Disney World is a guidebook for those who want to take a deeper look into the history and creation of the lands and attractions at the Magic Kingdom park in Walt Disney World. The author, Aaron Wallace, takes you on a journey clockwise throughout the park, beginning in Adventureland and culminating on Main Street U.S.A. As you enter each land, you are provided with a description and history of the area and then guided through each attraction in that land. The highlight of the book for me, as a big Disney fan, was learning about Walt’s influence on the attractions as they were created for Disneyland and later re-created for the Magic Kingdom.


Aaron Wallace did a great job researching and providing his readers with both historical and current information about each attraction. He gives a quick introduction about the attraction and then goes into great detail. He is truthful in his opinions, but also provides insight on why some of the lesser visited attractions still exist and how they are connected back to Walt Disney himself. Mr. Wallace also ties in a movie to each attraction.

Overall, I think it was a great book for Disney fans, like me, to dig deeper into the history of the Magic Kingdom. In my honest opinion, I wouldn’t want to read the book before visiting for the first time since the author goes into great detail about each attraction (and I like surprises). I would however, bring it along with me so after I experience an attraction, I can read up on details I may have overlooked.

**WDW hints note: Keep in mind as you read this book that Magic Kingdom is constantly growing and changing, so as you read this book, you will notice that some things have already changed since the book was published. For example, there are no longer paper fastpasses in this park and some of the newest attractions (Enchanted Tales with Belle, Journey of the Little Mermaid and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) are not included. I hope that we will see an update for this book soon as well as follow-up guides for Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.

~Crissy


Disclaimer: We received a complimentary copy of The Thinking Fan's Guide to Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are our own. Affiliate links have been provided but do not raise the cost of the book for buyers.