I often have people asking me how we survive traveling to Disney World in August, which is when we always go. For various reasons, school, work…it really is the only option we have. Yes, it’s HOTTER than the surface of the sun most of the time!
Channel your inner Olaf!
But, with some strategic planning and accessories it can still be a very enjoyable vacation.
Beat the summer heat at Disney World with these tips!
Rope Drop – I hear you, you want to sleep in on your vacation, but getting to the parks early at opening, or even Extra Magic Hour opening even better is really one of the best ways of beating the heat. The coolest part of the day, relative to the heat of Florida in the summer of course, is before noon. Which leads right to the next tip.
Schedule a midday break – If it’s a short trip it might be difficult to schedule downtime, but a midday pool break will save your sanity and hopefully prevent those kid meltdowns when they’ve just been pushed too far. Doesn’t matter how hot it is, being in the water or under an umbrella with an icy drink will keep you cool.
Stategic FP and Queue Planning – Choose the longest queues that are outdoor for your Fastpasses in the afternoons. Become familiar with the queues as many are inside and have a/c or even outdoor ones have fans and are shaded. It helps…a lot. Outdoor ones that are kept fairly cool are Rock n Rollercoaster, Tower of Terror, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Expedition Everest. Inside queues where you might enjoy a slight wait to cool off include Test Track, Soarin, Space Mountain, Toy Story Mania and Dinosaur.
Plan those WET attractions – There are rides that you WILL GET WET on in most of the parks. Plan those for afternoon, noon – 4pm. It’s amazing how even a little bit of water can make a difference, and you’ll dry quickly. These include Kali River Rapids which will get you soaked. Splash Mountain and even a little splash on Pirates of the Caribbean is possible.
Water Parks – If you have any interest in the water parks, summer is the time to explore those. If you have a long enough trip 1-2 afternoons at the water parks is a great way to stay cool.
Accessories – Cooling towels like Frog Toggs or iCool Towel will keep you cool and misting fans can be bought in advance from Walmart for less than the ones they sell in the parks.
Showtime – Shows such as Mickey’s Philharmagic, Turtle Talk with Crush, Finding Nemo the Musical, It’s Tough to be a Bug, Indiana Jones (although outdoor it’s covered and there are fans) are another great way to cool down and rest, mingle them into your schedule.
Use Disney transportation – Nothing is worse than getting into a hot car that has been baking in the Florida sun for hours. Use the air conditioned monorails, buses, boats to get from A to B.
Disney actually did a very good job of creating waiting areas and queues to ensure the least amount of time out in the heat and sun.
Don’t forget your sunscreen and sunglasses!
With a little bit of strategic planning which I am happy to help you with if you book your trip with me, you can prevent melting in the hot Florida summer sun.
Shopping at Disney World is fun! So many interesting things, not just gifts but for the home as well.
Here are my favorites:
5. The Lego Store at Disney Springs. My boys really enjoy this store and so do I. Lego is fun. They have things you’ll never find anywhere else and the Lego creations are incredible.
4. 365 Days of Christmas at Disney Springs. Do I even have to say why? Because it’s Christmas… always. Christmas is the best.
3. World of Disney at Disney Springs has everything which is fitting as it is the largest Disney Store in the world. Even the decor is amazing to see.
2. MouseGear at Epcot smack dab in the middle of Future World. I particularly love the selection of t-shirts and hats here. I could spend hours in this place!
1.The Emporium on Main Street. This store runs almost the entire length of Main Street and it’s a great way to beat the crowds and heat by walking through it instead of the street! You can find anything and everything here and if you don’t want to carry your purchases, have them sent to Guest Services to be picked up on your way out or if you are staying at a Walt Disney World resort, have it shipped there. And let’s face it, there is just something special about shopping right inside the Magic Kingdom on Main Street USA.
Be sure to take some time to check out these fabulous shops on your next visit to the House of Mouse!
You made the plans, took the trip and made treasured family memories. Now what? You’ll want to preserve those memories somehow and one of my favorite days is by making a photo book of the trip.
Shutterfly does have a Disney themed photo book option which is great, but if you are a little more hands on then perhaps these digital scrapbooking kits are more your speed. Easy to download and then use in Photoshop Elements.
5. A Frozen Heart by Studio Flergs
A digital scrapbooking kit by Studio Flergs. A frozen heart was inspired by a Norwegian Princess named Anna. Striking bold colours, rosemaling patterns, and filled with beautiful elements. A Frozen Heart is perfect for fans of the other sister! But also great for winter pages, sisters or more. **Coming soon is the sister kit to match**
4. Animal Kingdom by Digital Scrapbook Ingredients
Whether you are going on safari, spending a day at the zoo or just like wild animals, this beautiful kit Animal Kingdom by Digital Scrapbook Ingredients will help you capture your adventurous memories!
3. Pieces of Eight by Studio Flergs
Avast ye scallywags. Look no further! As I have the perfect kit fer scrappin’ those pirates of yers. Grab yer dubloons & pieces of eight or be sure to walk the plank into Davy Jones’ locker.
2. In My Imagination by Studio Flergs
“Something very magical can happen when you read a good book” -J. K. Rowling.
Calling all book lovers! Celebrate your love of books with this magical kit. Fairytales, fiction, whatever your favourite genre or book is, In My Imagination is perfect to help you scrap about your love of books.
1. Believe in Magic Collection (multiple themed kits)
Believe In Magic consists of many kits themed for different princesses, stories, etc… all created by Amber Shaw and Studio Flergs.
Staying onsite at Universal Orlando Resort has many benefits and staying at one of the 3 deluxe resorts includes the best benefit of all, included Unlimited Express Pass.
HOTEL GUESTS ENJOY EXCLUSIVE THEME PARK BENEFITS
SKIP THE REGULAR LINES with Universal Express SM Unlimited ride access* in both theme parks – a FREE benefit worth up to $89 per person, per day^
(valid theme park admission required)
Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, one hour before the theme park opens† (valid theme park admission required)
Loews Royal Pacific offers the lowest cost option of the deluxe resorts and is an absolutely gorgeous resort. Easy walking distance to both parks and boat service as well.
Dine on exceptional cuisine; delight in the impeccable service; and soak in the breathtaking splendor of lush tropical surroundings at a white sandy beach of the lagoon-style swimming pool; all while enjoying the latest in modern conveniences.
Royal Pacific offers several room categories, from standard, water view, suites and their fun kid’s suites…Jurassic Park themed!
Guest Room Amenities
1,000 guest rooms including 51 suites; rooms start at 335 sq. ft
Flat panel television with HD channels and On Demand® in-room movies (fees apply)
iHome clock radio and docking station
Keurig coffee maker featuring Emeril’s Gourmet Coffee and assorted teas
Cotton signature bathrobes
Nightly turndown service (upon request)
Iron, ironing board, hairdryer and in-room safe
Complimentary* wireless internet access in each guest room and most common areas of the hotel
Upgrade to Premium Plus^ wireless internet access for optimal entertainment and business needs
2 telephones (1 cordless) with dual voice lines, data port and voicemail
Club Level rooms feature complimentary continental breakfast, access to the fitness center, and more
Whether it’s relaxing in the serene lagoon-style pool, the sights and sounds of our weekly luau, or a workout in the fitness center, Loews Royal Pacific Resort has something for everyone.
One of the most impressive features of this resort is the lagoon-style swimming pool and sandy beach. Sink your toes into the sand and ease your body into your lounge chair. Lagoon style swimming pool featuring a white sand beach and the following:
Two (2) hot tubs
Beach volleyball court
Private cabanas for rent
Mandara Spa® & Fitness Center
Visit the full service Mandara Spa® next door at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. Mandara Spa® offers comprehensive wellness services, a de-stressing zone where you can work out, or tune out with a delicious spa treatment.
Supervised Kids Camp
When Mom and Dad want to enjoy a night on the town, drop the kids off at the supervised children’s activity center.
Kids will enjoy an arts & crafts table, storybook corner, computer desks, a movie room, and more. Counselors are trained to supervise toilet-trained children ages 4-14 only. One counselor for every 8-10 children.
COST: $15 per hour, per child / $15 per meal
HOURS: Open from 5:00 pm to 11:30 pm, Sunday through Thursday and from 5:00 pm to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. * Times are subject to change.
Emeril’s Tchoup Chop
In both atmosphere and menu, Emeril’s Tchoup Chop offers diners a unique and exotic journey through the Pacific Seas, a perfect complement for the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, complete with bamboo, waterfalls, sculpted gardens and giant woks in full view.
Islands Dining Room
Enjoy savory chef-inspired creations featuring noodle bar dishes, rice bowls, wok and hibachi specialties. At breakfast, join us for traditional favorites, along with several Polynesian-influenced morning specialties.
Jake’s American Bar
Jake’s American Bar is the perfect place to meet for drinks and lively conversation after your day’s adventures.
Sit back and experience an evening of authentic Polynesian food and entertainment at the enchanting Wantilan Luau, a weekly Hawaiian dinner show featuring an all-you-can-eat buffet of Polynesian specialties, live Hawaiian music and traditional hula dancing. Hula and fire dancers delight the audience and entice a few to even learn the hula! (Fees apply; reservations required)
Orchid Court Lounge & Sushi Bar
Enjoy a continental breakfast or a tropical cocktail at the Orchid Court Lounge, which overlooks a serene orchid garden. The Orchid Court Sushi Bar features modern, inventive sushi and sashimi presentations along with Asian-inspired desserts and South Seas martinis.
Bula Bar & Grille
Bula means “welcome” in Fijian, and you’ll definitely feel right at home at this poolside eatery serving up food and beverages with a tropical flair.
THE LONGER YOU STAY THE MORE YOU SAVE!
Stay more nights and save up to 35%!
Contact me to get starting planning your EPIC vacation at Universal Orlando!
Rope Drop is what opening is called at the Disney theme parks. At Magic Kingdom, they have a Welcome Show each morning as a part of their Rope Drop. Occasionally, the other parks have had shows as well, but not regularly.
Why should you plan to be at the Magic Kingdom in time for Rope Drop?
3. It’s a fun show! The train pulls into the station with most of the characters on it, there is singing, dancing, waving, confetti and often a Family of the Day picked from the early arrivals to the park. Often there is fun going on just inside the park as well, cast members waving hello, the Dapper Dan’s may be out. It’s exciting!
2. Parks are empty! You are walking into an empty park. A cast member will lead people to the main attractions and there are photo ops with fewer people than you will see for the rest of the day. You can ride the big ticket rides with little to no wait, more than once if you’d like.
1. The number one reason is to maximize your time in the park! By arriving at opening when crowds are minimal and many are still sleeping in, you’ll have access to many rides with little to no wait for an hour or two. You’ll get much more accomplished in the morning than in the afternoon and it’s not quite as hot either.
While sleeping in is nice, my number one recommendation on a Disney trip is to be at Rope Drop and make the most of your time. Relax by the pool later in the afternoon when the lines are long and the parks are crowded.
Join Mickey at this festive winter celebration for live entertainment, spectacular fireworks and an oh-so-jolly holiday parade.
Here Come Mickey and Santa
Start planning for a marvelous gathering with family, friends and some familiar Disney faces!
When Mickey celebrates the season, Magic Kingdom park lights up with excitement for Guests of all ages. Cinderella Castle shimmers. Joyful music fills the air. Disney Characters don their most festive attire. Favorite attractions take on a holiday theme. And enchanting surprises lie around almost every turn!
Held on select evenings, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is currently scheduled to take place on the following dates in 2016:
November 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 18, 27 and 29
December 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18 and 22
Save Up to 25% on Rooms at Select Walt Disney World Resort Hotels This Spring!
Save up to 25%* on rooms at select Walt Disney World® Resort hotels for stays most nights April 14-June 11, 2016 when you book by March 31, 2016. Other great rates for stays most nights Feb. 22-April 13, 2016.
Plus, receive 1 more ticket day FREE when you upgrade to a room and ticket package with a minimum 4-day Magic Your Way® Ticket.
Full list of offer exclusions : campsites, 3-bedroom villas, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms.
Next we’re off to nearby Beaches Negril where we are treated to lunch on the beach! Beaches is the family version of Sandals, offering families the same amazing luxury inclusions couples enjoy at Sandals.
Beaches is located on the widest stretch of Negril’s seven mile white sand beach!
It is very much tailored to kids of all ages, in addition to all the usual Sandals inclusions, Beaches offers Kid’s Clubs with all day supervision of children of all ages and lots of activities, including Pirate Island, and water theme park with 8 slides and a lazy river.
Beaches is also in partnership with Sesame Street and Xbox. The Xbox Lounge is appealing to the older kids, as will be the Xbox in each room. You can ask them to remove it before you arrive if you prefer. 😉 Sesame Street characters make appearances at special times for a parade and a few other special things.
A unique extra is having a Sesame Street character of tour choice come and tuck in your child and read them a bedtime story.
Gourmet Discovery Dining
Arizonas (Tex Mex), Bar B Q Park (Jamaican), Cafe de Paris (cafe), Dino’s Pizzeria (pizza), Kimonos (Japanese), The Mill (International), Soy (Sushi), Stewfish (Jamaican Seafood), The Venetian (Italian), Sweeties (ice cream), Doggies (hot dog stand)
The architecture blends Caribbean influences with tropical greenery. Beaches Negril offers Concierge and Butler Level rooms.
All the usual water and land sports you can imagine! The beach, pools, Teen Center, Kids Camp, Fitness Center, Pirates Island Water park, weekly events..
Kids Camp is open from 9am to 9pm daily offering a wide range of activities supervised by trained Nannies. Xbox Lounge open from 9am to 11pm.
Red Lane Spa treatments, beach cabanas, Scuba Certification, Island Routes excursions, laundry/dry cleaning, photo shop, special private dinners and more are available at an extra cost.
As always, there is a “no tipping” policy for all team members except Butlers and Spa Technicians.
On this year’s family vacation to Disney, we added two nights at Universal since our kids (12 and 9) are now old enough to get the most out of these parks. They are geared to a slightly older kid crowd.
We stayed at the Portofino Bay Hotel, and you can read the hotel review here.
When you arrive from the hotel via the water taxi, you disembark at CityWalk. CityWalk is an entertainment and dining complex located between the two theme parks. Over the bridge to the right is Universal Studios and over the bridge to the left is Islands of Adventure.
The big draw at Universal Orlando Resort is of course, their two Harry Potter themed lands. Walking into Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, takes you right into the movie. Universal nailed it! We are not big Harry Potter fans, kids are reading the books now, and we’ve seen and enjoyed the movies, but even we could appreciate the level of detail. Everything you’d expect is there, Ollivander’s, Butterbeer in several varieties, pumpkin juice, snacks, and merchandise. Wands for sale at various price points, including interactive wands that will activate window dressing throughout the two lands. The Harry Potter attractions are fantastic and even the queues are entertaining enough to make the waits bearable. Escape from Gringotts was our collective favorite, although my oldest might say Dueling Dragons was his.
There are now two Harry Potter themed lands with the opening of Diagon Alley last summer. Hogmeade is inside Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley is in Universal Studios. There is a train, the Hogwarts Express, that connects the two parks, but a park-to-park ticket is required to ride this attraction. The park to park ticket is akin to Disney’s Park Hopper allowing you to hop between the 2 parks on the same day. This is not just a train connecting the parks though, it’s a ride in itself and different in each direction.
This is where staying onsite comes in handy. Onsite guests have early entry to one, sometimes both during busy times, of the Harry Potter sections each morning. For our trip, in late August, is was Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure. Entering early meant little to no wait times on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the ride inside Hogwarts Castle. Also Dragon Challenge and Flight of the Hippogriff.
Beverage Cart in the queue! This is genius!
Staying onsite, we also had Unlimited Express Pass included, which allows you do bypass the main queue in almost all the attractions at both parks (Harry Potter rides not included). Now, this didn’t eliminate the waits completely, but it did shorten them significantly. Despicable Me was probably the longest wait even with Express Pass at about 30 minutes, but it was posted at 80 minutes without. Note that you can buy an Express Pass, but it is not Unlimited, you can only ride each ride once with the regular Express Pass.
Being that the parks are both movie themed, all the attractions are obviously movie centered. Comic Book heros, Minions, Shrek, Transformers, Men in Black, Jurassic Park, a favorite of my boys. There are younger kids areas like Seuss Landing. Many of the attractions are simulator type rides, but with a moving ride vehicle.
As I said, most of the rides are more suited to tweens and teens or slightly older kid. My youngest is 9, almost 10 . Only 2 rides had a height limit of 54 inches. He missed the cutoff by a 1/2 inch on The Hulk and Dueling Dragons, but was able to do everything else. Several are 52 and 48 inches. There are several water rides as well, a log flume similar to Splash Mountain, a raft ride similar to Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom and the Jurassic Park ride. You WILL GET WET on all these rides. Soaked on two of them. I warned you.
When you’re hungry there is food everywhere. Tons of counter service places and most are quite large with lots of seating. We had lunch in Jurassic Park at The Burger Digs one day. Don’t make the mistake of sitting at the tables just outside, stay inside. We had to move when a crazy squirrel would not leave us alone, he was jumping on the table and coming right to our tray trying to take our food. No fear for him, I was terrified!
You don’t have to make reservations 180 days in advance!
We did table service for both dinners. There are not many table service restaurants in the parks, but just outside at CityWalk there are plenty. You can make reservations for the table service restaurants, most are on Open Table, but it’s not always necessary and you can do it a week or two in advance, or even just early in the day for dinner. We chose Mythos at Islands of Adventure which is consistently ranked one of the top theme park restaurants and it did not disappoint. Food and service both very good.
We also ate at Finnegan’s at Universal Studios which was great as well. Authentic Irish pub food and live entertainment, although at first the songs were decidedly classic rock, but eventually he broke into some classic Irish tunes like Irish Rover.
Both Universal parks are fairly small in comparison to the Disney parks, think more along the lines of Hollywood Studios size. We had half a day, the day we arrived and then a full day the next and were able to see everything we wanted to. Now, if you are big Harry Potter fans, you’ll need a bit more time as we didn’t spend too much time exploring those areas other than doing the rides and wandering a bit during the early entry hour before it got crowded. We also took afternoon breaks to return to the resort and swim, which was super convenient being just a 15 minute walk or short boat ride away.
Next time we might do 3 nights just to have a little more time to spend more time in certain areas and still have the afternoon swim breaks, maybe explore some of the other resorts as well since pool hopping is permitted at Universal.
Overall it was a very enjoyable add-on and change from our usual and I do believe it will now be a MUST DO for all future trips.
I can help plan your trip to Universal Orlando Resort, just contact me and we’ll get started. 🙂