September 27, 2014

Giveaway: $25 Disney Gift Card + Frozen or Mickey Mouse Calendar (Your Choice!)

Our Giveaway this week is brought to you by Ashley Bivona - a fabulous Disney Vacation Planner with Mickey Adventures! Ashley is no stranger to WDW Hints, as she wrote a great article on pleasing each child at Walt Disney World when one has special needs. Great read!

Ashley is excited to reward one of our readers with a $25 Disney Gift Card AND a choice of either a Frozen Calendar or Mickey Mouse Calendar (pictured below).



A few of Ashley's Disney Favorites include:
Resort: That's hard since we stay at a different resort every time we go. LOL. So far our favorite is Caribbean Beach.
Restaurant: ViaNapoli 
Favorite meal: Pizza at Via Napoli. 
Attraction: Splash Mountain
Show: Festival of the Lion King Favorite 
Character: Cinderella 
Favorite Hints to Share: When we want a quiet break in the MK we head to the benches outside of Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe. When coming out of an attraction your stroller could have been moved, we decorate ours so it's easy to spot.

Be sure to follow Ashley on Facebook! She'd be happy to plan your next Disney Vacation!

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for a change at winning a $25 Disney Gift Card and (your choice of) Calendar! Entrants must be 18 years of age or older and a Resident of the USA. This giveaway begins Sunday, September 28 at 12:01 a.m. (eastern) and ends at 11:59 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4 (2014.) Good luck!!

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September 26, 2014

How to Avoid Crowds at Disney

I recently wrote about ways to avoid stress at Disney World and discussed avoiding the crazy Disney crowds as one way to beat stress. I thought I'd explore a bit more on how to avoid crowds at Disney, because, believe it or not, it is possible!

1. Choose your dates carefully - When people ask me the best time to visit Walt Disney World, I always tell them to go when school is in session. People, understandably, visit Disney over school breaks and during the summer. So, those times are going to be jam packed with people. If you can go when school is in session, you'll be in a great position to beat the crowds.

2. Can't skip school? Still choose your dates carefully - I know not everyone can skip school for a Disney vacation. We are willing to take the kids out of school for a day or two, because as a wise teacher once told us, "don't let school get in the way of your education." I'm sure as the kids get older we won't be able to afford this luxury. If you can't miss school, try to go at the beginning or end of the summer when crowds are lighter or go over a less busy holiday weekend.

3. Avoid Extra Magic Hours - Resort guests love being able to enter the parks an hour early and love being able to stay later in the evenings. This "perk" draws in many resort guests which translates to larger crowds. We always choose a different park than the one offering Extra Magic Hours to avoid crowds.   

4. Look for special events - Events like Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party close the Magic Kingdom to guests without tickets in the early evening. Guests who are not park hopping won't want to go to a park that closes at 6 or 7 p.m. if it is the only park they will be in that day. So, those days are typically a lot less crowded and a great choice for a visit.

Also, attending special events is also a great way to get on your favorite attractions with low waits. The parties have fantastic parades, dance parties and treats that pull people away from the attractions. Plus, ticketed events mean less people in the parks, so there are often smaller crowds.

5. Arrive early - We've said it 100 times. Get to the parks BEFORE they open. Give yourself time to get through security and get to the front of the line. Many of the parks open a bit earlier than their publicized time and have fun welcome shows. The main perk is that you can get a lot of touring done in the first two hours the parks are open. Crowds tend to arrive later so when they arrive, you can grab a snack or head out for a break when the parks are most busy.

6. Stay late - After a mid day break, my family always heads back to the parks for the evening. Some nights are, of course, crowded in the parks, but the waits do go down as the evening progresses.

7. Tour the Parks Counter-Clockwise - People naturally go to the right (because most are right-handed, we drive on the right-side of the road, etc.… it's an observation Walt Disney himself made - which is why the Tomorrowland walkway is twice as wide as Adventureland's walkway.) So, do what's unnatural and head to the left whenever you can! You'll find areas are less busy, especially in the mornings, when you go against those natural tendencies to go right.

Now, of course, Disney World is always going to be busy and there will always be crowds, but with some simple planning you can steer away from some of the large crowds. What's your best tip to avoid crowds at Disney?

Happy touring!

September 23, 2014

Can You Solve the Haunted Mansion Mystery?

Can you solve the Haunted Mansion mystery?
Many guests ride the Haunted Mansion each day. The first statues that guests pass in the queue have a unique meaning to them. Each headstone provides a clue as to who the killer of the family was.

Can you solve the mystery? Here are the clues:






If you've got the answer, or want to take a guess, answer in the comments below! Perhaps we'll be back in due time with the correct answer…

Kristin Zarchan is a travel agent for Pixie Vacations. She is the mom to three wonderful children, including a special needs son. She has traveled to either Disney World or Disneyland once a year for the past 20 years. She fell in love with Epcot when a friend’s family took her to Disney for the first time when she was 14. Her favorite ride both then and now is the Haunted Mansion. You can follow Kristin on twitter or facebook.

September 20, 2014

Giveaway: $25 Disney Gift Card and Olaf Goody Bag!!

We're excited to announce this week's Giveaway, which is sponsored by Grace Murphy - an excellent Disney Vacation Planner with Mickey Adventures!

What's the Prize?
Grace has generously provided a $25 Disney Gift card, plus an Olaf bag FULL of goodies which one of our lucky readers will win! Enclosed in the reusable Olaf goody bag are: Adult Tinkerbell flip flops (size 9), Sofia the First flip flops (child size 5/6), infant socks (12-24 months), girls Doc McStuffins shirt (size small 5/6), boys Toy Story shirt (small 5/6), a Tangled water bottle, Jake cup, and of course, the $25 Disney gift card!!! (Everything pictured below!)

About Grace...
We asked Grace to tell us a few of her Disney favorites…

WDW Hints: Favorite Character?
Grace: Merida

WDW Hints: Favorite Resort?
Grace: Although I have lots of favorite resorts, my most favorite resort is the Yacht and Beach Club because that's where my wedding reception was.

WDW Hints: Favorite Attraction?
Grace: My favorite attraction is the Seas with Nemo and Friends.

WDW Hints: Favorite Restaurant?
Grace: My new favorite restaurant is Saana at AKL Villas. The food and delicious and you can't beat watching the animals roam. My favorite go to meal is the Tonga Toast at Kona Cafe. A must-do on every trip we take!

WDW Hints: Favorite "hints" to share with others?
Grace: As for helpful are a few… 1. Don't let the rain get you down! There is still so much to do, just don't forget your ponchos and buying them beforehand will save you money. 2. One of my favorite things to do is watch the electric water show when staying at or visiting one of the Magic Kingdom resorts. It runs nightly and you can see it from any one of the MK resorts. 3. And one more...try to plan an Epcot dinner at Illuminations time at one of the restaurants around the World Showcase Lagoon, like La Hacienda, Rose and Crown Pub, or Spice Road Table. Remember to ask for a window seat at the check-in podium.

Be sure to follow Grace on Facebook!!

Enter the Giveaway! 
Ready to enter for a chance at winning this Fabulous bundle of Disney prizes? Enter using the Rafflecopter Widget below. Must be at least 18 years of age to enter, and a resident of the United States. This giveaway begins at 12:01 a.m. (eastern) Sunday, September 21 (2014) and runs through 11:59 p.m. Saturday, September 27th. Good luck!!

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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!!

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,

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!!  =)