For many visitors to Walt Disney World, summer is the only time that they can vacation especially when you have a school aged child. And we all know that summer is hot, but there is something different about Florida heat. The humidity and sometimes triple digit temperatures can put a real damper on your vacation.

At Magic Kingdom, there are several attractions that will provide you relief from the heat and get you off your feet. These may not be the most popular attractions but take advantage of the air conditioning and less people.

Adventureland:
• Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
• Jungle Cruise
• Pirate of the Caribbean

Frontierland:
• Country Bear Jamboree

Liberty Square:
• The Hall of Presidents

Fantasyland:
• Mickey’s PhilharMagic

Tomorrowland:
• PeopleMover
• Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
• Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor

Remember to arrive early or stay late and plan these attractions for the afternoon when the temperatures are at their peak. Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen!

Lori Steinnerd 

Travel Specialist

photo3

Some of my favorite photos of my kids are from Disney parks, and I have HUGE scrapbooks to prove it! I’m one of those moms who will plan an outfit based on where we’ll be, what characters we might meet, coordinating colors,… I also enjoy taking candid photos – photos when they’re looking somewhere else and all you see is the joy in their eyes, photos while walking behind them, and the simple things that make up what a Disney vacation means to our family. I am in no way a professional photographer, but I do like to pay attention to my shots.

1) Get down to their level. Sure, have some fun taking some artistic shots looking straight down at your kids or looking up at them from the ground, but the best photos are those that are at the same level as the subject. Experience things from a child’s perspective, and you’ll be amazed what comes into focus!

2) Mind the background! Sometimes what is behind your subject can be totally distracting when looking at a photo. Make sure that plant won’t look like it’s growing out of someone’s head! On the other hand, maybe you’d like to include something or someone in the background to show where you are. Offset your subject to the side so you can include the background in the frame!

3) Watch them when they don’t know you’re watching! Kids will get lost in the parade. They’ll be in awe of the castle or in seeing their favorite characters. Those are the moments to fill the frame with that pure joy!

photo2

4) A great photo doesn’t necessarily require the subject’s face to be in the picture. Walk behind them and take a photo of their back, and show what they are walking towards!

5) Don’t be afraid to get up close! I always try to snap several different shots of a scene – zoom in, zoom out, portrait, landscape,…. I am drawn to images where I can really see someone’s face. While it’s good to be able to know where your subject is in a photo, sometimes it’s the expression on his/her face that is more important.

6) And lastly, what I struggle with – Learn when to put away the camera and just enjoy the moment. Dark rides and nighttime photos can be difficult with a point and shoot camera. Take a few photos if you must, but then sit back and enjoy the rest of your time.

7) Let’s not forget – Disney’s PhotoPass photographers can be found all over the parks and even at select resorts! Be sure to get a family portrait and, if you’re up for some fun, have them do a special pose with you!

photo1

Friendly reminder – Don’t be “that guy!” Although many of us are tempted to take photos on dark rides, please refrain from having the flash go off at every scene. It ruins the magic for everyone else, and unless you’ve got a great DSLR camera, it’s very difficult to get a good, clear shot worth taking.

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist

bog2

Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

Be Our Guest. It is arguably the most popular restaurant in all of Disney World. Reservations are extremely hard to come by for any meal, but as Disney cracked down on third party websites offering reservations to Disney property restaurants, reservations have become a bit easier. It took this girl 3 visits to Disney World and lots of planning before I could finally snag a reservation for dinner, and it was so worth it!

My daughter and I arrived slightly early for our dinner reservation, and they were quick to accommodate us. We were greeted outside the castle by a Cast Member carrying Lumiere. She gave us a brief tour of the castle as we were led to the West Wing, much to my daughter’s delight. The ambience inside was perfect – dimly lit, the magic rose glowing softly in its glass case in the corner, beautiful tapestries that had been shredded in the Beast’s rage, and a portrait that, if you looked long enough, transitioned between the Beast and his true human form.

Service was fast, but dinner was not rushed. Several guests were walking around the different dining rooms to take a look, and the Beast entered each room to have fun with the guests and get everyone excited to be there.

As for the food, it was delicious. Even the salads were wonderful! I enjoyed the Layered Ratatouille which tasted just like my grandmother’s recipe. My daughter ordered the Strip Steak and thought it was cooked perfectly. Then…the dessert cart. Every dessert on the menu was sitting before us in a beautiful case. How can you choose just one? We ordered the obligatory “Grey Stuff” which, to be honest, left us a bit underwhelmed. The shining star, though, was the Triple Chocolate Cupcake. Fabulous and rich, I would recommend sharing it and perhaps tasting a few desserts together.

After dinner, we were invited into the Library to meet the Beast. He does not sign autographs, but he is playful and ready for photos. The Beast truly was having fun with all the guests which made it that much more fun for all of us. As good as the food was, the visit with the Beast was the highlight of the evening.

Be Our Guest is not advertised as Character Dining; however, the Beast is often available after dinner to greet guests to his castle.

bog1

It was a very magical experience, and I would gladly return to dine here again, perhaps for a quick-service breakfast next time!

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist

IMG_0541

Nope. Wasn’t interested. I’ve cruised before (years ago on a different cruise line), and I really wasn’t all that excited to do it again. Well, when I became a vacation planner about 3 years ago, my daughter began to show interest in a Disney cruise. Really, she was begging to go. So, what’s a mom to do?

Her birthday was approaching, and I had an opportunity to experience my first Disney voyage, so I decided to surprise her with the trip.

The excitement as we were just coming off the last bridge on the way to Port Canaveral….I think we both cried when the Disney Magic came into view! Those recognizable smoke stacks, the Mickey logo on the side of the ship, the Disney terminal,…. Truly, I think the fact that it was a DISNEY ship, knowing the magic we would be experiencing shortly, it completely transformed my idea of what this cruise was going to be.

I was surprised by how quickly we were able to check-in and receive our Key to the World cards, and then signing my daughter up for the Kids’ clubs was just as fast. Boarding was organized and went quickly, as well, and there was even time for photos! The entire process of getting everyone on board the shipment safely was very impressive.

We immediately started exploring the ship – kids’ clubs, restaurants, the beautiful lobby, seeing the theaters, and enjoying the art that covers the walls throughout the ship. We immediately met our stateroom host, Charlie, as soon as our room was ready.

For the next 3 nights, we were greeted by friendly faces in the halls, silly towel animals in our room, ate, met wonderful people from around the world, played Bingo (twice!), played trivia challenges, ate, met princesses, enjoyed a movie, saw two of the three stage shows, shopped, made repeated visits to the open ice cream station, enjoyed the pool, gazed out at the water, saw beautiful sunsets, ate some more, and loved Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

There was so much to do at all times that we were never bored. I suppose some would say the trip was too short, but because we always had something to do, I think it also helped to feel like we were on board the ship for much longer to have seen and done everything we did. My daughter had so much fun wandering the ship with me that she didn’t want to spend her cruise time in the kids’ clubs.scan0005

While we certainly took part in so many family activities, there were plenty of quiet spots for adults to spend their time without the kids, and there were lots of adults traveling with other adults. It never felt crowded, and I never felt over-run by children. There was a good balance of adults and kids with enough room to spread out.

I have already re-booked for another cruise, and this time we’ll share the fun with my husband and son. There is something for everyone on a Disney cruise – whether it’s onboard the ship, an excursion in one of the ports, or soaking up the sun on Castaway Cay.

 

 

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist