Dreaming Into Reality

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Beyond the Mouse January 20, 2013

Filed under: travel — jolchowy25 @ 10:07 pm
Tags: ,

If you have ever been to Disney, you know you will need a vacation from your vacation once you return home. If you read my last post, you got some tips on planning a trip to Disney. This post is going to explain some things I have found to enjoy beyond the Mouse and the rides. My next post will talk about my top ride picks, so you know what you have to look forward to.

Downtown Disney

If you are looking for something cheap to do, head over to Downtown Disney, home to many shops, restaurants, and entertainment centers. Parking is free and you don’t have to spend money if you don’t want to.

Downtown Disney (DD) is home to one of my favorite places, Ghirardelli Chocolate. There is nothing better than stopping in and getting a nice ice cream sundae after a day in the parks. Another favorite is Wide World of Disney. This is basically your one stop shop for all of your souvenirs. Just remember, if you stay on Disney property, you can have packages delivered to your resort so you don’t have to carry them around. Packages are usually at your resort the next afternoon, so if you are leaving the next day, I would not recommend this.

You will also find the new Splitsville bowling alley at DD. If seeing a show is more your thing, catch La Nouba or a concert at House of Blues. For a rainy day, why not head over to DisneyQuest Indoor interactive Theme Park, or catch the newest Hollywood blockbuster at AMC 24.

Pin Trading

I started Disney pin trading/collecting back in 2000, and yes, there is where most of my money goes. While I am a fan of buying and collecting the pins, I am not a fan of trading. Personally speaking, I buy pins that have meaning to me. If I wanted to trade, then I would buy whatever.

I have heard stories of people trading with someone and then maintaining a friendship with that person. So, if you don’t have any sentimental value to a pin, start asking others you seeing with pins to trade. Also know that if you ask any Disney cast member to trade, they have to. This can come in handy since they may have limited edition or special pins.

Relax at the pool or beach

Every hotel on Disney property has at least one pool. If you want to relax, spend a few hours or the day relaxing with a drink in hand. Most hotels in the non-value category have themed pools, which is great for the younger ones. If you are lucky, maybe you are staying at a resort with a beach. While you can not actually swim in the lakes, why not spend the afternoon relaxing in a hammock.

Enjoy the fireworks

Fireworks above Magic Kingdom

Fireworks above Magic Kingdom

Who says you have to be in one of the parks to see the fireworks? Head over to one the the resorts in the Magic Kingdom area and relax on one of the beaches and look up. I have heard there are great spots at the Polynesian to view the fireworks.

If you are lucky enough to be staying at one of these resorts, just walk outside or sit on your balcony. That’s what this Disney family did when we stayed at the Contemporary.

 

Play Ball!

Florida is home to the Grapefruit League. If you visit in February or March, try to catch a MLB Spring Training game. The Atlanta Braves train at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex and the Houston Astros are just down the road as well.

I’m a Philadelphia fan, so the past few years when we went down in March, we made the trip to Clearwater to see the Phillies play.

Phillies Spring Training

Phillies Spring Training

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orlando Attractions

Want to stay in Orlando, why not visit Universal Studios? Home to Nickelodeon and Isle of Adventures, there is something for everyone. Since I am no longer a child or teenager, I prefer Isle of Adventures, mainly for the roller coasters. If you are a Harry Potter fan, this is where you can find Hogwarts and butter beer. Fan of Marvel, ride the Hulk and take a trip with Spiderman.

Also while in Orlando, stop by and visit Shamu at SeaWorld. Although I have not visited SeaWorld in a few years, you can never go wrong with this park.

If anyone else has any tips on different things to do while in Disney that is not visiting with the mouse himself or riding the rides, let me know your thoughts. I would love to hear your comments.

 

 

 

Let's Go to Disney! January 13, 2013

Filed under: travel — jolchowy25 @ 7:47 pm
Tags: , ,

No matter how old you are, there is one place you can be a kid and never grow up. What is that place you may ask? Well, that magical place is Walt Disney World. Ever since I can remember, Disney is the one place I love and never grow tired of. I always thought that anyone who has been to this magical place 10 plus times is an expert. Well. My family just booked our trip to Disney, making this my tenth time to visit. In this post, I am going to give you my top tips for visiting with the famous mouse. In future posts, I will talk about dining options, hotel options, and entertainment options, and some of my other favorite things about Disney.

1. Know before you go

There is alot of information on the internet that can confuse you, especially if you have never been to Walt Disney World (WDW). The WDW website is a good source of information to start with. I personally also like AllEars.net and WDWinfo.com. These are definitely the two sites I keep tabs on in the days leading up to my trip.

Another good way to gather information is to talk to friends and neighbors. Surely, you know at least one person who has vacationed with Mickey and his friends. Take their advice and ask as many questions as you need to to get a feeling of whether you want to go at the same time they went. While Disney is a great place, it is not that much fun in the middle of Summer, while waiting in 2 hour plus lines for a major attraction.

2. Where to Stay?

When planning, make sure you know your budget. That can be key in deciding whether to stay on Disney property or off. Growing up, my family (mom, dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc) would rent a condo for a week and drive to the park we wanted to go to for that day. While this was great, as we saved money on the hotel, we spent alot of time driving to and from the parks, and wasted money on paying to park. Yes, the rooms may be bigger and cheaper, but you don’t experience that magic that is Disney.

Now that it is just my parents and I traveling, we stay on Disney property. We absolutely love it. We arrive, check in, and hop on the first bus that pulls up to start enjoying our vacation. Yes, that’s right I said bus.

Disney offers those guests staying on the Disney property to enjoy free transportation to and from the parks. This means you don’t have to worry about driving to the park, waiting in lines to get into the parking lot (if you show you’re resort key you will not have to pay), and then remembering where you parked at the end of the day. Once the fireworks are over, just exit the park and wait at the bus terminal to take you back to your room.

 

3. What to Do?

I love Disney. From the time we check in to our hotel and drop our bags off to the time we leave, I want to be in a park meeting characters and going on rides. I hate spending time at the hotel. What I’m about to type pains me, but after last year, I think it is good. Spend time and relax by the pool. Yes, I said it, and it pains me. However, last year when my family went, we really didn’t have a plan, so one day while Dad Disney went to play golf, Mom Disney and I relaxed by the pool. It was nice not doing anything all morning but soak up some Florida rays.

When not soaking up the sun at either a pool or beach, enjoy the parks. For my family, Magic Kingdom and EPCOT are musts. I truly believe a trip to Disney does not start until I’m walking down Main Street USA. I recommend spending at least one day, if not more at each of these parks.

Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios (which I still refer to as MGM since that is what it was called the first time I went), are not must go to parks for Dad Disney. When we go to these parks, we normally spend half a day at each. Personally, I won’t cry if we don’t go to Animal Kingdom. I may cry this year if I don’t get to go on Toy Story Mid Way Mania at Hollywood Studios. The past two years there have been over a three hour wait and the fast pass tickets have been sold out. Sorry, but I’m not about to waste three hours standing in line.

4. Leave the real world at home

Always remember, you are on vacation. Be a kid and forget that pile of paperwork on your desk. It will still be there when you get back. If you’re lucky, maybe someone will throw some pixie dust and it will even be gone when you return. Enjoy the time you have with your family. You never know when someone will not be there.

 

Let’s Go to Disney!

Filed under: travel — jolchowy25 @ 7:47 pm
Tags: , ,

No matter how old you are, there is one place you can be a kid and never grow up. What is that place you may ask? Well, that magical place is Walt Disney World. Ever since I can remember, Disney is the one place I love and never grow tired of. I always thought that anyone who has been to this magical place 10 plus times is an expert. Well. My family just booked our trip to Disney, making this my tenth time to visit. In this post, I am going to give you my top tips for visiting with the famous mouse. In future posts, I will talk about dining options, hotel options, and entertainment options, and some of my other favorite things about Disney.

1. Know before you go

There is alot of information on the internet that can confuse you, especially if you have never been to Walt Disney World (WDW). The WDW website is a good source of information to start with. I personally also like AllEars.net and WDWinfo.com. These are definitely the two sites I keep tabs on in the days leading up to my trip.

Another good way to gather information is to talk to friends and neighbors. Surely, you know at least one person who has vacationed with Mickey and his friends. Take their advice and ask as many questions as you need to to get a feeling of whether you want to go at the same time they went. While Disney is a great place, it is not that much fun in the middle of Summer, while waiting in 2 hour plus lines for a major attraction.

2. Where to Stay?

When planning, make sure you know your budget. That can be key in deciding whether to stay on Disney property or off. Growing up, my family (mom, dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc) would rent a condo for a week and drive to the park we wanted to go to for that day. While this was great, as we saved money on the hotel, we spent alot of time driving to and from the parks, and wasted money on paying to park. Yes, the rooms may be bigger and cheaper, but you don’t experience that magic that is Disney.

Now that it is just my parents and I traveling, we stay on Disney property. We absolutely love it. We arrive, check in, and hop on the first bus that pulls up to start enjoying our vacation. Yes, that’s right I said bus.

Disney offers those guests staying on the Disney property to enjoy free transportation to and from the parks. This means you don’t have to worry about driving to the park, waiting in lines to get into the parking lot (if you show you’re resort key you will not have to pay), and then remembering where you parked at the end of the day. Once the fireworks are over, just exit the park and wait at the bus terminal to take you back to your room.

 

3. What to Do?

I love Disney. From the time we check in to our hotel and drop our bags off to the time we leave, I want to be in a park meeting characters and going on rides. I hate spending time at the hotel. What I’m about to type pains me, but after last year, I think it is good. Spend time and relax by the pool. Yes, I said it, and it pains me. However, last year when my family went, we really didn’t have a plan, so one day while Dad Disney went to play golf, Mom Disney and I relaxed by the pool. It was nice not doing anything all morning but soak up some Florida rays.

When not soaking up the sun at either a pool or beach, enjoy the parks. For my family, Magic Kingdom and EPCOT are musts. I truly believe a trip to Disney does not start until I’m walking down Main Street USA. I recommend spending at least one day, if not more at each of these parks.

Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios (which I still refer to as MGM since that is what it was called the first time I went), are not must go to parks for Dad Disney. When we go to these parks, we normally spend half a day at each. Personally, I won’t cry if we don’t go to Animal Kingdom. I may cry this year if I don’t get to go on Toy Story Mid Way Mania at Hollywood Studios. The past two years there have been over a three hour wait and the fast pass tickets have been sold out. Sorry, but I’m not about to waste three hours standing in line.

4. Leave the real world at home

Always remember, you are on vacation. Be a kid and forget that pile of paperwork on your desk. It will still be there when you get back. If you’re lucky, maybe someone will throw some pixie dust and it will even be gone when you return. Enjoy the time you have with your family. You never know when someone will not be there.