January 28, 2013

Walt Disney World Power Packs

Living with two picky eaters, or three if you include my husband, means that it's not always easy to find great healthy meal choices with a variety that pleases everyone.  After days of pasta and pizza and pasta and pizza (and pasta and pizza) on my last Disney trip, my kids were ready for a different meal.  We were thrilled to discover Power Packs in the food court at our resort.

Power Packs can be found in the refrigerators at resorts and run less than $6 each.  It's a great snack for an adult or a meal for kids.  It included fresh fruit (grapes and apples), yogurt, goldfish crackers, string cheese and chocolate covered marshmallows.  Yum! We saw some with veggies instead of fruit, so you may find different options at different resorts.

My kids were thrilled with their Power Packs.  Something about the different compartments was fascinating to them and they were so excited to see so many foods that they loved.  They actually sat through the entire meal and ate everything in those packs (a Disney Miracle!) We will definitely get these again for lunches on our next Disney trip.

Have you had a Power Pack yet?  Did you get a different assortment of foods?

Happy Snacking,

January 24, 2013

KIDCOT Fun Stops

Today, guest writer Lauren is telling us all about the Kidcot Fun Stops at Epcot! Next time you've got a little one with you at Epcot, make sure to include these fun stops in your touring plan! Thank you Lauren for this great information! ~Terri

Epcot has come a long way, since I was young. There are so many activities for the little ones to do that keep them interested in the World Showcase. One of my son’s favorites is the Kidcot area. Not only is there a fun… and FREE coloring of Duffy the Bear or Perry the Platypus, it is rare to find a free activity/souvenir in Disney World, so be sure to take advantage of it. The only negative thing I would warn parents of toddlers is that several of the countries use Sharpies. These are great because the color lasts longer, but for toddlers just learning how to color, it can be messy.  My two year old did fine, but I made sure I was watching him close to make sure his clothes didn't get ruined. While the kids are coloring, or even if you choose not to color, there are CMs there to talk about their native country. Most of them will also draw the country’s flag on the back of Duffy with hidden Mickeys in the design. However, if your child really loves the idea of traveling to different countries, you might consider purchasing a kid passport for $9.95. The CMs at each country will then stamp the passport and write something in their native language. I love this opportunity to educate my child, while having a great time on vacation. You can find the passport books at most of the stores and for some children it is worth the money. Every kid wants to feel like an adult and most think it is pretty cool to have their very own passport.

There are 11 countries with Kidcot areas, but my family’s favorite is the United Kingdom. The coloring area in the UK is located in the back of The Toy Solider along with my son’s favorite characters Pooh and Tigger. When we were there last spring, Tigger even helped my son color.  The Kidcot areas can be difficult to find, but ask any of the CMs and they should be able to help you (there is a list at the bottom of this article to help a little more). If you happen to walk by the telephone booths while in the UK, be sure to have even more free fun with your kids and “prank” call them with Disney trivia or other cleaver things to make the trip extra special. Check out WDW Hints article for how to call the booths. It always amazes me the excitement children have over the smallest things. It is definitely worth a try!

Kidcot Locations

  • France – Souvenirs de France
  • Morocco – Marketplace (in the Medina)
  • Japan – Bijutsu-kan Gallery
  • America – near Heritage Manor Gifts (outside)
  • Italy – near La Bottega Italia (outside)
  • Germany – Volkunst
  • China – House of Good Fortune (inside)
  • Norway – The Puffin’s Roost
  • Mexico – near Animales Fantasticos (inside the Mayan Temple)
  • United Kingdom – The Toy Soldier (near the back of the store)
  • Canada – O Canada! Attraction exit

Lauren is a wife, mother and lover of all things Disney. Having recently started running, she continues to train for the runDisney races and hopes to eventually do the Coast-to-Coast challenge. Disney is her home away from home and nothing makes her happier than helping others have as much fun there as her family and she does.

January 17, 2013

The Benefits of Staying On-site at WDW

Do you stay on-site or off-site? Allison, a travel agent with Middle of the Magic Travel, gives us her reasons as to why staying on-site proves to be beneficial for your Disney Vacation. What would you add? Thanks, Allison for sharing your insight with us! ~Terri

So, that time has finally arrived. The time you have finally decided to take that trip of a lifetime to a Disney Park. How do I do this? I feel so overwhelmed! Where should I stay on my vacation? I wonder if I could save some money by staying off-site? In this Disney lover’s opinion, there is only one option. Let me share a few reasons why I think staying on-site at Disney is the best option for your next vacation.

  1. You can make your trip an all-inclusive trip by staying on-site. By booking a room at a Disney Hotel, this enables you to purchase your tickets and meal option plan therefore making it easy breezy for you to just relax and enjoy your vacation without the worry of leaving the Disney Resort. There are many, wonderful, fine dining establishments all over the resort.

  1. The service you will receive at a Disney Resort is top notch. The Cast Members make you feel as if you have just returned home from an exhausting day out. The rooms at the Disney Resorts are beautifully maintained every day and decorated to match your resort theme so it makes you feel like you never leave the magic.

  1. You will not ever have to pay to park at a Disney Park. Did you know, it will cost your family sedan $14.00 a day  just park your car? If you stay on site, you can save that money  and put it to your fun filled vacation. The parks offer bus/boat transportation to everywhere you would like to visit on the Park grounds. Why would you need a car?

  1. You have the option to participate in Magic Hours. Magic Hours are special hours before and after the parks close to play a little longer with fewer crowds. Who wouldn’t want more time in the park?

There are many more reasons why I think staying on-site at Disney Parks is the best way to vacation at Disney. I know there are those of you that love your Orlando Hotels and don’t get me wrong, there are some beautiful ones with lovely amenities, these are just some examples of why I believe staying “in the Magic” is the way to go. Please feel free to comment and tell me your thoughts.

Allison Myers is a stay at home mom of 2 beautiful daughters and a Travel Agent with Middle of the Magic Travel.  Her days of Disney excitement began when she was in High School. While in marching band, she visited Walt Disney World and the Magic was unleashed. She has since visited 7 times with the wants of returning every year. Her favorite ride at Walt Disney World is The Pirates of the Caribbean, since it's a park staple and shows off Walt's vision. You may contact Allison for any of your Disney travel needs: [email protected]

January 16, 2013

Make Your Own Mickey Pizza!

Today Julianne, from Misadventures of a Momma, is sharing with us how to make a Mickey-shaped Pizza! This pizza is sure to give big thrills in your Disney-loving family! Let us know if you give it a try. Thanks for sharing your pizza with us, Julianne! ~Terri

What better way to prepare for your family’s FIRST Walt Disney World trip? Create plenty of crafts, goodies, and gifts! Our family recently went to WDW during the week of Thanksgiving 2012.  For many in our party of 10 it was the first trip. (For others of us, it was our first trip in a LOOOONNNNGGGG time.) Since this was the case I wanted to make sure I could do everything in my power to make all sorts of goodies for everyone in our group. Starting in April, I created everything from small backpacks & autograph books to camera straps, pillow cases, and t-shirts. Many of these projects were secret (and so hard to keep hidden), but many of them were also intended to be completed with the children of the family.

Our biggest and easiest time of preparation and celebration were Disney-themed movie nights. Many of these nights we would be 1-3 movies to watch and make some sort of food goodie. We soon found that our favorite was Mickey Mouse Pizza. These consistently morphed into different designs every time we created them. Our most recent pizza was completed the Saturday before our trip. We had decided to do a huge sleep over at Grandma’s house. We would bake Mickey Sugar Cookies (yummy…but scary looking. All part of my “Ugly as Sin Bakery” idea I have.), watch Disney movies (Brave had just been released on DVD), and bake Mickey Mouse Pizza. This ended up being one of our favorite preparation nights.  

As a fellow Disney lover I wanted to share our steps to prepare this yummy Mickey Mouse Pizza.

Step One:  Gather Ingredients
  • Premade pizza crust dough. (Pillsbury has some good dough, but to save money I usually go with the store brand which is just as yummy.)
  • Pizza Sauce
  • Cheese (I use one with a lot of variety.)
  • Toppings: I have listed our typical toppings below, but you could put anything you want on your pizza.
    • Pepperoni
    • Black olives
    • Green olives
    • Mushrooms
Step Two: Pizza Prep.
To make a Mickey Mouse-Shaped Pizza you will need two cans of the pizza dough.  After removing the wrapping from your pizza dough, do not unroll it! You will take the first roll and cut it in half.  This will allow you to then unroll the dough and shape each half into small circles. These will be the ears of your pizza.  You can then unroll your second can of dough.  Shape this can into a larger circle. To attach your “ears” simply place them on the pan next to the “head” and pinch the dough of the ear with the dough of the head.  

Part of your preparation will also consist of having all of your ingredients accessible and easy for little hands to get to. You will also want to slice your olives if you did not purchase them pre-sliced.

Step Three: Make the pizza.
After you have created the Mickey Mouse-shaped pizza dough and prepared your other ingredients, it is time to put it all together.  

  1. Cover dough in sauce. You can use as much or as little as you would like. (I’m not much of a sauce person so I use enough to lightly cover dough and allow the other ingredients to stick.)
  2. Evenly spread cheese over entire pizza.
  3. Add Pepperoni.
  4. Add other ingredients.
  5. Place in oven to cook. I determine my temperature based on the instructions for the prepackaged pizza dough.
  6. Let cook.  This will usually take 15-20 minutes.  

Step Four: EAT!
This is the part where you can enjoy the yummy pizza and all of your hard work.  Enjoy!

This is our yummy Mickey Mouse pizza before it went into the oven.  We were too hungry to take a picture of the cooked pizza before we ate it.

Happy cooking!

Julianne is a christian, wife, and mom from Georgia.  She loves being a SAHM with many interests like DISNEY, reading, photography, food, being a musician, and teaching her toddler new things... some of which she writes about on her blog - Misadventures of a Momma. She has technically been to Walt Disney World twice, but doesn't remember the first trip. Her most recent trip was Thanksgiving 2012 (which is her favorite time of the year to go to WDW) and she was super excited to meet her favorite Disney Princess - Ariel.

January 14, 2013

Using a Stroller as a Wheelchair at WDW

Many families that visit WDW have a member in their party that may have special needs. Those special needs can be visible or not as easily recognized. Kristin explains to us how and why strollers can be used as wheelchairs at WDW. Thank you Kristin not only for sharing these stroller tips, but also for allowing us to gain a better understanding as to why strollers can be used as wheelchairs. ~Terri

Have you ever visited the Magic Kingdom when one stroller pushing parent after another is directed to the stroller parking? Then all of a sudden one stroller with a child in it is allowed to either enter into a show or enter through the exit line of the ride. Why can that stroller go where other strollers cannot? It belongs to a special needs child. The stroller has been tagged with a red tag that is similar to the yellow and green Magic Express tags that are attached to luggage. It has a symbol of a wheelchair on it and an arrow that points to a wheelchair. The tag makes that stroller able to go anywhere that a wheelchair can go.

This tag is a lifesaver for special needs parents. It allows their child to remain buckled in place until it is time to board a ride which is important when a child does not understand danger and would run in front of a moving ride vehicle without thinking of the consequences. It keeps the child safe from running off and getting lost since the child cannot speak and cannot tell a cast member their name when asked. It allows a child to sit in their safe place of comfort during shows that contain loud noises and unfamiliar sites that are certain to set off a meltdown despite the weighted blanket on their lap and the ear plugs in their ears. It also helps a child with difficulty walking due to foot and leg issues to remain in their stroller during long days at the parks where their legs would fatigue and give out.

The stroller as wheelchair tag combined with the guest assistance card are life saving devices for parents of children with specials needs, who are overwhelmed with how their child will deal with all of the sights and sounds of the park. These parents just want to share the joy of Disney with their child while understanding that extra precautions must be taken to keep their child safe and happy.

Editors Note: Guest Assistance Cards (aka: GAC) and "Stroller = Wheelchair" Tags can be picked up at any Guest Relations office located near the entrance of each Disney theme park.

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.

January 10, 2013

Mickey's Waffle Bar... at Home!

Would you like to have a Mickey Waffle right now? You can! Guest writer Lisa, shares with us her recipe and toppings to make your Mickey waffles taste great. A Disney treat at home is always fun. Let us know if you give these a try! ~Terri
It’s pretty much a fact that everyone loves waffles. What makes something so simple even more spectacular? How about a Mickey inspired Waffle Bar! It’s the newest craze being used for family get-together's, weddings, and parties! The best part is that you can be as creative as you please and add all sorts of goodies and extra’s to make the waffles become even delicious for your guests.  

Here is my recipe: 
(you can always just use a bisquick mix as well)

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 tsp of baking power
  • ½ tsp of salt (optional)
  • 2 cups of flour
  • ¼ cup of butter, melted but cooled
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
1. Beat egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until light

2. Add melted (but cooled) butter, milk and vanilla extract

3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the egg mixture and beat well

4. Beat eggs whites until stiff and gently fold into batter

5. Place in waffle maker (A Mickey Mouse Waffle Maker, of course) and cook to your desired level. 

6. Gather additional items you would like to add to the “bar” for guests to top over their waffles. I chose strawberries, banana’s, walnuts, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, coconut flakes, and powdered sugar. 

7. Set up an area for the serving to take place by adding different dishes and plates in fun styles to help create an exciting d├ęcor. 

8. Serve and have fun!

Lisa Shilen is a true Disney lover. She has been to WDW over 13 times and recently became part of the Disney Vacation Club. Lisa looks forward to sharing her love for Disney food by sharing on her Disney Food Fanatic Facebook page and eventually moving to Orlando with her husband.

Editors Note: Lisa let me know that she picked up her Mickey Mouse Waffle Maker from Kohls. While I could not find one at Kohls.com, I did find several Disney-themed waffle makes on Amazon.com. Here's what I found: Disney DCM-1 Classic Mickey Waffle Maker, Brushed Stainless Steel
Disney DP-1 Princess Waffle Maker, Pink

The links above for the waffle makers are through an Amazon affiliate program. Purchasing these items through my links will not increase the cost for you, but Amazon does contribute a minor portion of the sale back to me in order to keep this blog running.

January 8, 2013

The Advantages & Disadvantages of WDW in January

Our guest blogger today is Jen Zinno - Owner of Mickey Adventures. Jen has compiled a great list of advantages and disadvantages of visiting Walt Disney World in January. We hope you find it helpful - especially if you're heading to WDW this month or planning a trip for next January! ~Terri

One of the questions I get from people most frequently is when is the ideal time to visit Disney World.  I don’t think there’s one specific time that is best.  There are positives and negatives to any time you might choose, and the important thing is to weigh those options and pick the time that will make the most sense for your particular family.

Recently, my family has settled on January as our ideal time.  January is a unique time to visit Disney World, and we’ve come to really love it.  We went both in January 2010 and January 2012 and had wonderful trip both times.  What is it that makes this a great time for us?  There are a number of advantages:

  • Lower crowds: Except for immediately after New Year’s and Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, January has relatively low crowds compared to much of the year.  It isn’t quite as empty as early September, but you will definitely enjoy low waits.
  • Lower cost: Related to the lower crowds are cheaper trips.  Most of January is considered value season at Disney World, the lowest price rack rates of the year.  In addition to that, there have historically been discounts offered every January, and many times two different discounts to choose from.
  • Cooler weather: If you don’t like to tour the parks in oppressive heat, January is a great time for you!  
  • Attention from cast members: Again because of the lower crowds, you are more likely to get personal attention from cast members and characters.  We had one dinner at Garden Grill at around 7PM.  At the beginning, the restaurant was relatively full, and the characters made their usual rounds.  We got pictures and autographs with each.  But towards the end of our meal, the restaurant had emptied out quite a bit and the characters continued to come around again.  At that point, we’d done our pictures, and the kids just had a great time interacting with them.  The characters were being silly with the kids, teasing them, and just having a great time.  That doesn’t tend to happen during more crowded times.
  • Lack of special parties: While some may not see this as an advantage, our family does.  We prefer not to spend money on some of the extra evening parties (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party).  Because of that, we much prefer to visit at a time that isn’t offering these parties so that we don’t have to plan our schedule around it.  In the past, it was frustrating to us to have many days during our trip when the Magic Kingdom closed at 7PM for a party.

Of course, as I mentioned above, no time period is perfect for everyone.  So what are the disadvantages of traveling during January?

  • Cooler weather: As you can see, this one is both an advantage and a disadvantage.  The weather in January varies a lot.  It can be beautiful and warm, or quite cold.  And there can be a big variation in temperature throughout the day.  Our 2012 trip had unseasonably warm weather – sunny and 80’s all week.  In 2010, it was much more dreary, and frequently in the 50’s and 60’s.  For our family, we would much rather risk cooler weather than deal with the 90+ degree heat with humidity.  But some people do not want to go to Florida and deal with jackets, and January would not be an ideal time for them.
  • Shorter park hours: Because January is a less crowded time, the parks tend to close earlier than at other times of year.  This isn’t an issue for us as with young children, we don’t want to be in the parks late anyway.  And we find that we can get the same amount (or more) done in that shorter period of time.  But for those that prefer to tour late at night rather than in the morning, January might not be a great choice.
  • Refurbishments: Disney takes advantage of the lower crowds to bring more rides down for refurbishment than at other times of year.  Splash Mountain is almost always closed during that time (though we got lucky in 2012 and it was open), and there are often several other rides down as well.  No matter how many rides are being refurbished though, there is still plenty to do!
  • Lack of special events: Aside from the marathon in the middle of the month, none of the Disney special events happen during January.  There are no special parties, no Food & Wine Festival, Flower & Garden Festival, etc.  This one is another personal choice as to whether these are important to you.
  • Water park closures: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach undergo refurbishments during the winter.  Only one closes at a time, so there will always be one available.  But if a particular one is important   to you, be sure to check when the closures are!

The bottom line when planning any trip to Disney is that you will never do everything on a single trip.  There are advantages and disadvantages to everything, and each family needs to pick what will work best for them.  And to a Disney lover like me, there is no bad time to go!

Jen Zinno is the Owner and a Disney Vacation Planning Specialist with Mickey Adventures. Jen loves all things Disney and would love to help you plan your dream vacation! Contact the Mickey Adventures team to help you work though your options and figure out the best time for you to travel.  Contact Jen at [email protected], or visit us at www.mickeyadventures.com or www.facebook.com/mickeyadventures.

January 7, 2013

Make Your Own Personalized Disney Autograph Books!

Today we have a special treat. Guest blogger Becca, from Love Our Disney, is sharing step-by-step instructions on how to make your own Character Autograph books! These books are super cute, small enough to fit in your park bag, and will be a wonderful memory-maker! Be sure to let us know if you create one of your own! Thank you, Becca, for sharing your ideas with us! ~Terri

Thank you for letting me share this craft tutorial with you!

When getting ready to go on a Disney trip, I love to make a lot of personalized, special items. Not going to lie, part of the reason is I love how proud I feel when other park guests say "That _____ is adorable! Where did you get it?" The main reason though, I like personal souvenirs and I like to craft to get me excited for the trip. Plus, when I can make something this durable and cute for cheaper than the standard Disney bought version, why not?

So, grab some supplies, and let's make some personalized Disney Autograph Books!

For this craft you will need:
  • Chip Board - You can buy it pre-measured to the right size, or a large piece you cut (I did the latter as the 12x12 were on clearance at Hobby Lobby)
  • Card Stock
  • Distressing Ink (optional)
  • Paper cutter
  • Hole Punch or a binding system like The Cinch or Zutter
  • Decorative papers, stickers, etc
  • Adhesive
To start - I had 12x12 chipboard. I decided to make my books covers 4x6 so that I could get 3 books out of each piece (each book has a front and back cover). I cut my chipboard to the correct sizes.

Then I used decorative scrap book paper to cover the chipboard. I used different paper for each one based on the character that the person chose.
In this one, the character paper is actually the back cover.

Then I cut card stock. I cut each 12x12 and made them 3.75" by 5.8" You can make them the exact same size as the card board (4x6) to make it easy. Your pages need to be no smaller than 3x5 so that the characters have enough room to sign. 
I then distressed the edges. I did this for 2 reasons. First, I like to distress things (as anyone who has read my blog knows) because I like the look. Second, distressing the pages helps them not look dirty when little kids handle them with not-so-clean hands.

I was making 5 books (3 of which are in the picture above) so I cut 20 sheets of card stock (to make 120 pages). Each book will get 20 pages, and then the extras will be used for other parts of the books.
Next, I took a card stock for each cover and glued it to the inside. I then decorated it with stickers.

I also put an "If Found" label I made and printed in word on card stock. I put it in the back cover.
Next, decorate your cover. For the one pictured below I used stickers, alphabet fuzzy stickers, and some Disney rub-on accents. (Alphabet stickers and rub-ons added later).

After you make your cover, and have everything done, it is time to bind it. I used The Cinch system to bind these. I like it better than the Zutter.
Remember to always practice on scrap pieces that are the same size before punching your actual project.

TIP: When you put the binding wire in, put the covers together, outsides (sides that will be the front cover and the back cover) facing each other then put all the papers on. After you bind it, flip over the cover not touching the card stock and it is all in order and the "seam" of the binding is inside the book. Be sure both your covers are facing the right way (top of pictures on same side).

Squeeze the binding as tight as possible.

(IF you do not have access to a binding system, you can use a hole punch. Punch 3 holes down the side and then carefully match up each piece/paper before punching the holes. Use craft rings to make it into a book.)

Now all you need to do is flip the covers the correct way and you are done.

Enjoy these personalized, one of a kind autograph books!

Becca grew up watching Disney movies and sing-a-longs and taking trips to Disneyland with her family. She continues the tradition now, but as a single income family with 2 full time students, does so on a budget. She started Love Our Disney to share her save money tips and craft tutorials with friends and family and it has grown from there. You can find Love Our Disney on twitter, facebook and pinterest as well as on the Love Our Disney blog.

January 3, 2013

Epcot Phone Booth Fun

Update 6/5/13: Sadly, it's been reported for a couple of months now that the phone numbers are no longer working for these phone booths. As soon as we hear they're back in order - we'll let you know!!

Have you ever noticed that there are three phone booths in the United Kingdom pavilion at Epcot? If you're looking at the pavilion, they are on the right side, closer to the Canada Pavilion. They are great for photo ops, but did you know that you can call those phone booths? The next time you're bored at work (which we're going to assume is now, since you're enjoying yourself on our site, instead of working) give one of them a call. People walking by are sure to be shocked when they hear one of the ring.
The phone numbers are:
Right Booth: (407) 827-9861 
Left Booth: (407) 827-9862 
Center Booth: (407) 827-9863
Canada Booth: (407) 827-9884

Canada?! Yes... there's even a single phone booth in Canada that you can call. It's located up the stairs and to the left of the second set of stairs as you're heading towards the Canada pavilion.

I have called before and talked to people enjoying their Disney vacations. It's a fun way to bring a little magic to their vacations and bring a bit of the Disney magic to you back home!

Give it a try and see if you can chat with someone who is at Disney!


January 2, 2013

What You Can Expect in January

I'd like to introduce you to Tammy, our guest blogger of the day! She's done an excellent job giving an overview of what to expect at Walt Disney World in January. I hope you'll learn something new... I didn't know about "the Goofy Challenge" and I'm pretty sure you have to be goofy in order to willingly try it! =) Thank you, Tammy, for sharing your expertise with us!! ~Terri

I cannot think of a better way to start a new year than visiting Walt Disney World! My family has travelled in January several times, and we have found that it can be a crazy month with the weather and crowds. Whether you are looking for lots of action or want the parks to yourselves, that can happen in January! In the past few years, free dining has been offered with a resort package, which includes your room and park tickets. These discount packages are usually offered in late fall for January travel.  If no specials are offered, this is still value season, so you will find some of the lowest rates of the year.
The weather during January can be somewhat unpredictable. In general, the highs are in the upper 60's with lows in the lower 50's. You will definitely want a jacket for cool mornings and evenings. We have been there when it was snowing (yes, really, in Florida!) and we needed hats, coats and gloves during the day. There have also been days when we wore t-shirts and shorts and were able to swim. My best advice is to pack layers that you can add or take-off as the temperature changes. Winter apparel is pretty hard to find in Florida and it is not cheap, so save yourself a few dollars and add those items to your packing list.  Disney will bring out one-size-fits-all knit hats and gloves to sell if the temperatures are low.

During the first few days of the month, the holiday decorations, lights and music will still be up for you to enjoy. Generally, somewhere around the 5th, the decorations will start to magically disappear.  The crowds are a little larger during these first few days of January.

The annual Walt Disney World Marathon is held the second weekend of January. Literally thousands of people will visit the resort to run during this four-day event. The weekend includes a family-friendly 5K, a half-marathon, a full marathon (16,000+ runners), a kids run, a pasta party and more.  The races do sell out, so register early if you want to participate (www.rundisney.com). If you are not a runner, you can sign up for the ChEAR squad with reserved seating to cheer on your favorite runner(s). You can visit the Expo at the Wide World of Sports complex and find some great fitness gear, seminars, and more.

My husband completed the Goofy Challenge (running both the half and full marathons) in 2010. If you do have a family member running for the first time, or just being "Goofy", I definitely recommend a room at one of the Disney Vacation Club villas. The one-bedroom and larger accommodations have a whirlpool tub, and your tired runner will appreciate a nice relaxing soak after their event. The crowds will swell during this time and transportation will be delayed during events (both major events take runners through the parks). It is great fun to watch, as many runners dress in costume and there is a very festive atmosphere around the event.  

Crowds will also get a bump during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, though this is the least crowded holiday at Disney. After the MLK holiday weekend, the crowds pretty much disappear, and you can practically own the parks! Since this is a slower time, you may find some of the favorite rides are down for refurbishment. Don't worry though, there will still be plenty to do and see, without the sweltering heat of summer.

Tammy is mom to two wonderful teenagers, Chelsea and Will, and wife to a fabulous Disney Dad, Keith. She has visited Walt Disney World over 50 times and has sailed on all four Disney Cruise Line ships. You can see more of her Disney travels on her facebook page or follow her on twitter.