Friday, December 28, 2018

how i toured toy story land during thanksgiving week

happy fri-YAY, toys!  thanks for coming back to my virtual toy box.  today's post is all about my super fun day in andy's backyard!  read on to find out how i was able to conquer lunch at woody's lunchbox, a meet & greet, and all 3 rides before 2:00.

Friday, December 21, 2018

the most wonderful time of the "ear"

happy fri-YAY... and happy holi-YAYS!

Monday, November 26, 2018

our november 2018 trip: a recap

what. a. week.  talk about a #wdwbestdayever... seven days in a row!

Friday, November 9, 2018

my november 2018 trip: everything i'm looking forward to

it's been well over a year since i've been inside walt disney world resort's sacred gates.  so much has changed, and my family is ready see and do everything!

Friday, November 2, 2018

the all-new world of disney: first thoughts

it looks like's new theme wasn't the only makeover that took place this week.

Monday, October 29, 2018

don't be fooled by the pink

 ... she is not playing dolls.  notice anything different about

Image result for mean girls plastics gif broadway

Friday, October 19, 2018

my bucket list walt disney world resort experiences

Every time I plan a new Disney vacation, I remind myself that there is still so much I haven't done that I really want to do.  During my Disney College Program, I did most of it-- I went to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, visited the Food & Wine Festival, and saw the parks all dressed up for Christmas.  But a true testament to just how much there is to do in Walt Disney World Resort is that even after five months living at the most magical place on earth, I still wasn't able to get everything done.

There are still a lot of things left on my Walt Disney World bucket list!  From dance clubs to brunch at the Top of the World, here's everything I (still!) need to do at Walt Disney World Resort.

Visit Epcot during the Flower & Garden Festival

Image result for epcot flower and garden festival 2018
Image courtesy of disney addicts

I had so much fun at the Food & Wine Festival during my college program, I'm desperate to see the Flower & Garden Festival!  I consider Flower & Garden to be the second largest Festival that Epcot sees every year.  Here, you'll find elaborate topiary and garden displays all around the park, much like the Beauty & The Beast themed one pictured above.  Much like Food & Wine, you'll be able to find special food offerings all throughout the world showcase during this festival.  Signature dishes include the long-standing frushi and 2018's show-stopping macaron lollipop.  You'll also be lucky enough to catch a free performance from several bands during Epcot's "Garden Rocks" series.  Among the impressive list of bands who you'll find performing here are The Plain White Ts, Village People, The Guess Who, Simple Plan, and Smash Mouth.  If anyone would like to drink a lot of wine at the France Pavilion and start a mosh pit to "All Star" with me next year, I'll be taking applications in the comment box below.

Experience the Food & Wine Festival Parisian Breakfast

Image result for food and wine festival parisian breakfast
Image courtesy of Mealtrip

The Parisian Breakfast is one of the Food & Wine's oldest festival-exclusive experience.  Once a week during the festival, guests are invited to Chefs de France early in the morning for an upscale breakfast.  This is one of the things I really wanted to do during my DCP but ultimately couldn't-- reservations fill up fast for this extra-cost event!  Here, you'll be treated to all-you-care-to-enjoy mimosas and a buffet of French pastries, cheeses, and other small breakfast delights.  All of the breads and pastries are homemade just steps away at the Les Halles Boulangerie et Patisserie bakery-- my favorite quick service location in Walt Disney World!  This experience has always interested me because I love the food at the France pavilion.  The dining team has done amazing things with Chefs de France, Les Halles, Monsieur Paul and L'Artisan de Glaces in the past few years, they always bring something unique (and delicious!) to the table.  Also, how bougie does a Parisian Breakfast sound?

Go to Jellyrolls

Image result for jellyrolls disney world
Image courtesy of Walt Disney World

Because I was only 19 years old during my Disney College Program, I never got the change to let the good times roll at this 21-and-up piano bar at the Boardwalk.  Here at Jellyrolls, two piano players duel it out every night playing requests from the audience.  It's a grown-up sing-a-long from sundown to sunrise every single night.  And now that I'm an adult, I'm ready to visit Jellyrolls with some friends and indulge in the two things I love the most in this world: frozen margaritas and sing-a-longs.

Do Brunch at the Top of the World

Image courtesy of Fairytale Foodie

One of the most exclusive meals in Walt Disney World can be found at The Contemporary Resort.  The Contemporary is home to California Grill, a signature dinner restaurant that opens its doors to brunch guests every Sunday morning.  At California Grill's signature brunch, guests are treated to all-you-care-to-enjoy mimosas, entrees, and an impressive buffet of sushi and pastries.  Unlike other restaurants around the World, guests are not only invited to, but encouraged to sit and relax for as long as they'd like.  Across the boards, dining reports for this meal are 99% positive.  Once again, I'll be taking applications for anyone who'd like to drink mimosas and watch the monorail go by for three hours in the comments below.

Moonlight Magic

Image result for moonlight magic kim possible
Image courtesy of MousePlanet

In 2017, my family became DVC owners during our August vacation.  However, because we live in NJ, we rarely get the opportunity to travel down to Orlando for the exclusive Disney Vacation Club members-only events that occur every so often.  Several times a year, DVC invites members to register for a free after-hours event in the parks called Moonlight Magic.  While registration closes rapidly, this is a free event where DVC direct members can congregate in a Disney theme park, after the park has closed to day guests, for exclusive character M&Gs, low wait times for their favorite attractions, free food (including all-you-care-to-enjoy Mickey Premium bars!), and exclusive fireworks.  I absolutely have to do Moonlight Magic at some point!  During this year's Epcot event, Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable were pulled from retirement for a M&G and Twitter was verily shooketh.  These events are highly rated among DVC members, and it would be great to enjoy an evening of free ice cream and DVC fun.

These are just a few highlights of all the amazing experiences I still haven't done after 5 months on a DCP and 5 resort property vacations!  I'm sure I'm not the only one with a laundry list of special events, tours, and dining experiences that I dream of fulfilling-- so now I want to know what's on your Disney World bucket list!  Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, October 12, 2018

the spookiest small shop finds this halloween season

Happy Fri-YAY!

If I'm known for loving two things, I'm known for loving Halloween and Disney Small Shops.  Part of the reason I started this project was to shed a light on all of the amazing creators in the Disney community-- and I don't know anybody who works harder than the owners of Disney Small Shops.  So I figured that today, I'd shed a light on the intersection of these two passions of mine.  Today I'm going to talk about the best Halloween-themed finds in the Disney Small Shop community.

Pumpkin Stack Shower Frosting

Wonderland Magic Bath Co.

Image: Wonderland Magic Bath Co.

Wonderland Magic Bath Co. has been spreading positivity and homemade, cruelty-free bath products throughout the Disney fan community for just over two years now.  You may recall last year when Micky, the maker, went viral for her Hocus Pocus themed bath line.  It was covered widely by Buzzfeed, POPSUGAR, and even Cosmopolitan!

It's hard to not fall in love with Micky's cleverly themed products.  My personal favorite this season is the Pumpkin Stack shower frosting.  Inspired by the iconic pumpkin stacks that set up camp on Main St. USA Every year, this scent holds notes of blueberry, pumpkin, and spices.  Just try not to eat it.

You can support Micky and purchase the Pumpkin Stack Shower Frosting here.

Not So Scary Party Pocket Tee

Mickey and Mandy

Image: Mickey and Mandy

I gush about Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party every chance I get, so obviously, I am obsessed with this shirt.  The mother and daughter duo known as "Mickey and Mandy" have done the impossible: tracked down the iconic PAC/Treat Trail CM costume patterns and turned them into gorgeous pocket t-shirts!  If you're going to a Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, but you're not quite keen on the idea of wearing a costume, this shirt is perfect for you.  Or if you're like me, and just want to rep your favorite hard ticket event every day of your life, this shirt is also perfect for you.

Either way, it's perfect and you can buy it here.

Coco Alebrije Inspired Ears


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Image: Lebownitte
Melissa & Beatrice over at Lebownitte are probably two of the hardest working creators I've ever seen in my entire life.  You have to follow these two on IG to fully understand how hard these two work, working round-the-clock to debut new designs, set up IG sales, mail out orders, and set up shop at local sales in their area.  Not only do they work hard, but their craftsmanship is unmatched in the realm of small shop ears.  Every maker has their own style, but there's something to be said about the unique, over-the-top and all around gorgeous designs that Melissa & Beatrice put out.  Don't believe me?  Just ask Ariana Grande.

They have a lot of amazing Halloween designs, but I chose this stunning Coco design because that's where their passion lies.  They love Coco, and this is just one of the many fabulous Coco-inspired pairs that they've done throughout the season.  You can buy this pair (or fall in love with another pair!) here.

Madame Leota Pin

UP-Cycled Disney Shop

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Image: UP-Cycled Disney Shop

I can't make a post about my favorite small shop finds without mentioning my all-time favorite small shop... UP-Cycled Disney!  I have been so beyond blessed to work with Kalyssa since she launched UP-Cycled Disney Shop this past summer.  Not only is she the sweetest person alive, but I am 100% committed to her mission of creating eco-friendly and upcycled products with a Disney flair.  Pins are very in right now, and these homages to my favorite Pixar movie always find their way into my Manhattan street style, whether they're pinned onto my backpack or my favorite jean jacket!  If you're a Haunted Mansion fan, you 100% need this subtle and trendy pin.  Rep the 999 happy haunts wherever you go.

You can buy Madame Leota here and DON'T FORGET!  You can save 15% on your entire UP-Cycled Disney Order when you apply my code at check-out: KAIT15

Spooky PLMouse 

Pretty Little Monograms

Image: Pretty Little Monograms

I make absolutely no bones about how much I adore Lindsay over at Pretty Little Monograms.  Lindsay spreads her colorful, Lily-Pulitzer branded, monogrammed magic all over the internet on her stunning IG accounts.  Pretty Little Monograms is one of the hottest Disney Small Shops right now, which offers stunning hand-crafted monogrammed apparel.  Her designs are subtle and clever, with just the right amount of pixie dust-- perfect for the millennial Disney fan.

Currently, you can't purchase the Spooky PLMouse design.  Womp-womp.  The custom Halloween monograms have been discontinued for the season, as the typical production time is 4 weeks.  Lindsay takes great pride in her work, and works hard to make sure every single item she mails out is handcrafted with love and special attention.  I just couldn't make this post without giving a special shout-out to this design, it's one of my favorites from her!

You can purchase her work here, including her iconic monogrammed rain jackets!


Friday, October 5, 2018

why october is the best time to visit walt disney world resort

Happy October!

First of all: my apologies for going M.I.A. last week.  Last weekend, I went home with a bad cold and found myself unable to get any classwork done.  I didn't even get to go to Broadway Flea Market-- which is my absolute favorite event of the year!  I was going to write a lifestyle post about college stress to make up for the lack of last week's article... but writing it was seriously stressful.  💁

Thankfully, today's post carries absolutely no stress.  In fact, I'm going to talk about what is probably the least stressful time of the year!  October is without a doubt the best month to visit Walt Disney World, so if you're on the fence about planning a list-minute trip to the World before your Annual Passes expire next month, you might want to read on.

Ever since my 2016 Disney College Program, I've had a special place in my heart for October at Walt Disney World Resort.  It was the best month of my college program in general, and quite honestly-- one of the best months of my life.  I always look back fondly about how at-peace I felt strolling along an empty World Showcase, or how much fun I had jamming to the Hocus Pocus Villains Spelltacular at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.  It just seemed like the World was perfect.

Let's deconstruct what made it perfect.

We can start with the obvious: Special Events.  October is the month where Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and the Epcot Food and Wine Festival both fully coexist.  If you've never been to either of these special events, put them on your bucket list.  Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a special, hard-ticket event at Magic Kingdom that runs from 7 PM-Midnight on select evenings in September and October.  At MNSSHP, you can trick-or-treat, meet special characters, purchase special merchandise, and enjoy exclusive entertainment (including an exclusive fireworks show!)

The Epcot Food and Wine Festival, which takes place from mid-September to early-November every year, is included in the price of your Epcot admission.  The large scale event encompasses nearly all of Epcot, and plays host to special culinary demonstrations, dining experiences, and of course-- booths all around the World Showcase where you can sample small dishes from all around the world.  Also included in the Epcot Food and Wine Festival is the Eat to the Beat concert series, where you can watch live performances from artists like the Plain White Ts and Sugar Ray.

Both of these events are a huge part of the culture of Walt Disney World.  If you haven't been to either of them, an October trip is in order so that you can fully enjoy the both of them in one short trip.

I'd argue that the ambiance in general is just better in October.  By October 1, the halloween/"fall" overlay is in full swing.  There are flickering pumpkin lanterns all along Main Street USA, and the statues of classic Disney friends that live in the Emporium are all decked out in their little Halloween costumes.  "Pumpkin" is the name of the game in October, where you can find pumpkin-flavored treats all around Magic Kingdom throughout the month.

Even if you don't celebrate Halloween, Magic Kingdom just takes on the most beautiful fall tone in October.  Magic Kingdom does a great job of capturing that warm, welcoming, "let's-spend-time-with-our-family-and-feel-grateful-for-each-other" feeling that so many people associate with fall.  The leaves and pumpkins really do make Main St. USA beautiful.

The weather alone is another reason October is an amazing time to visit the World.  The average high is 88 degrees whereas the average low is 66 degrees, and the daily mean temperature a comfortable 75 degrees.  It's not sweltering hot like it is in July and August (and even the larger part of September), but you don't need a sweatshirt like you might in December or January.  While rain is always a possibility in Orlando, the summer season of flooding every half hour has, for the most part, run its course.

Finally, here's what I consider to be the largest draw of an October visit: the crowds.  The second week of October was by and large the least crowded I've ever seen Walt Disney World.  It was 1:00 in the afternoon one Sunday in the middle of the month and Peter Pan's Flight was a walk-on to the delight of my coworkers and I.  If you visit in October for no other reason, visit to take advantage of the low crowds.  You'll be able to get so much more done than you would at any other time of the year.

October is my all-time favorite time to visit Walt Disney World, but now I want to hear from you guys.  What's your favorite time to visit the World?  Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Friday, September 21, 2018

how i planned our thanksgiving break trip to walt disney world

The 60-day mark for my family's Walt Disney World Resort vacation was this past Wednesday, which means one thing: our Thanksgiving break trip is pretty much set in stone.

Today's post is going to be a little wordy, so finish any homework due tomorrow, grab something to drink, and come back to me-- today we're going to talk all about how I planned a trip to Walt Disney World Resort during Thanksgiving week for my family of four.

For context...

Every trip you plan starts with the context of your travel party.  In this case, it's my family-- my mom, my dad, my sister (17) and I.  We're the ultimate Disney World fans, but we each have different touring styles.

  • Mom: Does not want to wake up early enough for rope drop.  Which is completely fair-- she's a hard worker, so why shouldn't she sleep in during her vacation time?  She prefers to relax in the morning, spend an afternoon by the pool, and visit the parks at night.  Her favorite ride is the Haunted Mansion, she loves Winnie the Pooh, and of course: she loves Epcot.
  • Dad: Magic Kingdom's number one fan.  He loves Main St. USA, his dream is to hang out with Chief Smokey Miller all day long.  He also loves roller coasters!  His favorite ride is Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but he's also partial Test Track.  He's pretty go-with-the-flow, but he hates running around the park, so I try to condense everything into an easy tour plan for his sake.
  • Grace: Has her set-in-stone favorites, but she always gets excited for anything that's new.  She's totally psyched for Toy Story Land!  Ultimately, mom and dad stick together, and Grace does whatever they're doing.  She's probably the most laid-back of the group.
  • Me: The rogue one!  I'm in the parks all day from rope drop until I get tired.  When my family enters the park, I'll go join them, but when they're not around, I'm perfectly content exploring WDW by myself.

As a family, we have always had a specific order that dictates which park we visit when.  The first day is always Magic Kingdom, followed by Epcot, followed by Hollywood Studios, then finally Animal Kingdom.  I don't know when we started touring like this, but it's just based on our personal preference.  There wasn't ever any rhyme or reason to it.

Oh.  And we've only ever vacationed as a family in the summer.  With no special events or holidays in the mix, crowds at Walt Disney World Resort are relatively more relaxed in mid-July and August, when we typically visit.

So how did all of this context come into play when I was planning our first Thanksgiving trip?

The Planning

FRI NOV 24 2017 -- Picking our dates/resort:  We picked our dates over Thanksgiving break 2017.  That was over a full year before our check-in date for Thanksgiving 2018.  We normally love to plan summer trips, but there wasn't a date over the summer that worked for everyone, so our best bet was Thanksgiving. 

Picking our resort was a no-brainer.  We would book at the Polynesian Village Resort, our DVC home.  DVC members can use their points to book a vacation at their home resort starting 11 months before their check-in date, so we knew that we would have the largest success rate if we booked at our home resort as soon as our 11-month window opened.

MON DEC 18 2017 -- Booking our resort:  At 8:00 AM on Monday, December 18, a very sleepy Kaitlyn booked her very family's very first DVC stay for November 18-24, 2018.  I consulted DISboards to see if anyone thought I'd have trouble getting exactly what I wanted as soon as my window opened, and everybody said that they thought I'd be fine.  They were correct!  We were able to book the exact room we wanted for the exact dates we wanted.

DEC-MAY 2018 -- Planning our touring strategy: After I booked in December, I had until May to decide what parks we would be visiting on what days.  Remember how I told you earlier that we had a park touring plan we have been using since the dawn of time?  Well, for this trip, I had to toss that plan and come up with a new one.  Being that this is a trip that encompasses a Holiday break, I wanted to consult park experts to see which days of the week would be the best to visit each park.  I used online crowd prediction calendars to help me determine our schedule for the week.  By our ADR date, I had this touring plan for our vacation:

Sunday, Nov 18: Check In, Magic Kingdom/Disney Springs
Monday, Nov 19: Epcot
Tuesday, Nov 20: Disney's Hollywood Studios
Wednesday: Nov 21: Disney's Animal Kingdom
Thursday, Nov 22: Magic Kingdom
Friday, Nov 23: Free
Saturday, Nov 24: Check Out

I mostly followed the crowd prediction calendars, choosing days that each park would be the least busy.  Being someone who worked at Magic Kingdom on Thanksgiving in 2016, I was a little apprehensive to plan our Thanksgiving day there, but the touring calendar told me it'd be the least crowded park that day.  We also really wanted a Thanksgiving dinner on the monorail, so it was the most convenient park for our situation.

At first, I buffered in a "free" day on Friday so that we could go back and revisit any park we wanted to spend more time in.  Having a flexible "free" day turned out to be our best idea so far, and I'll explain why a little further down.

TUES MAY 22 -- Booking our Advanced Dining Reservations.  Tuesday, May 22 was our 180 day mark.  Your 180 day mark is very important, because it's the day your window for making ADRs opens up!  If you're staying on property, you can book your dining reservations starting 180 days from your check-in date, and book them for up to 10 days past that day.  So if you're staying more than 10 days on property, you'll have to book your 11th day ADRs on the 181-day mark, your 12th day ADRs on the 182-day mark, and so forth.  I digress.

I woke up an hour past our window had opened up, and was able to successfully book mostly everything we wanted.

Sunday, Nov 18: Check In, Magic Kingdom/Disney Springs
Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' dinner -- 8 PM
Monday, Nov 19: Epcot
La Hacienda de San Angel dinner -- 6 PM
Tuesday, Nov 20: Disney's Hollywood Studios
50's Prime Time Cafe dinner -- 4:15 PM
Wednesday: Nov 21: Disney's Animal Kingdom
Yak & Yeti Restaurant lunch -- 12:30 PM
Thursday, Nov 22: Magic Kingdom
California Grill Thanksgiving dinner -- 5:20 PM
Friday, Nov 23: Free
The Wave breakfast -- 10:00 AM
Saturday, Nov 24: Check Out

A few notes on what we booked:

  • We booked our dinner at California Grill first.  We want Thanksgiving Dinner to be special, so I recommended a nice dinner at California Grill, even though I knew it would be a hard-to-get ADR.  5:20 wasn't ideal, but it was the last time slot they had for dinner that evening, so I was happy to snag it.
  • 50's Prime Time Cafe was not our first choice of dinner for Hollywood Studios.  We really wanted to do the Sci-Fi Dine-In, since we always do 50sPTC.  There was nothing available for SFDI that day, which frankly shocked me.  I've been looking for SFDI ADRs ever since with no luck.

AUGUST -- Purchasing our Park Tickets.  We bought our Annual Passes in August to make sure we'd have enough time to link them up to MDE and make our FP+ selections when our 60 day window opened.

WED SEPT 19 -- Making our FP+ selections.  On the 60 day mark, you can start making your three daily FP+ selections for our WDW vacation.  Out of every single aspect of Disney vacation planning, FP+ makes me the most anxious.  Something is always bound to go wrong, and we really want to get on Slinky Dog Dash this year, so being awake at 6:50 to make FP+ choices at 7 AM sharp was imperative.  

How did we do?

Sunday, Nov 18: Check In, Magic Kingdom/Disney Springs
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad -- 12:55-1:55 PM
Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater -- 2:50-3:50 PM
Pirates of the Caribbean -- 4:00-5:00 PM
Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' dinner -- 8 PM

Monday, Nov 19: Epcot
Spaceship Earth -- 1:00-2:00 PM
The Seas with Nemo and Friends -- 2:05-3:05 PM
Test Track -- 3:40-4:40 PM
La Hacienda de San Angel dinner -- 6 PM

Tuesday, Nov 20: Disney's Hollywood Studios
Alien Swirling Saucers -- 1:10-2:10 PM
Star Tours - The Adventure Continues -- 2:25-3:25 PM
50's Prime Time Cafe dinner -- 4:15 PM
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith -- 6:50-7:50 PM

Wednesday: Nov 21: Disney's Animal Kingdom
Yak & Yeti Restaurant lunch -- 12:30 PM
Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain -- 2:10-3:10 PM
Na'vi River Journey -- 3:25-4:25 PM
Kilimanjaro Safaris -- 4:25-5:25 PM

Thursday, Nov 22: Magic Kingdom
Peter Pan's Flight -- 11:50-12:50 PM
Haunted Mansion -- 1:05-2:05 PM
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train -- 2:50-3:50 PM
California Grill Thanksgiving dinner -- 5:20 PM

Friday, Nov 23: Free
The Wave breakfast -- 10:00 AM
Slinky Dog Dash -- 4:10-5:10 PM

Saturday, Nov 24: Check Out

We did great!  We got almost everything we wanted, with a few exceptions...

  • We were only able to book Slinky Dog Dash for Friday, but honestly, I was elated that we were able to have a FP+ at all!  It helps that we were able to book in on a day that we buffered in just in case something like this happened where we'd want to revisit a park.
  • We tried to book Mine Train for check-in day, but there were no times available.
  • There were no Flight of Passage FP+ times available at all on our Animal Kingdom day.  It wasn't important enough that we'd want to revisit it any other day, so I just booked Na'vi for us.

The Bottom Line

Phew!  Didn't I tell you that would be a long update?  Here's what I want you to take away from today's post. 

When you're booking a holiday trip to Walt Disney World, consider these points:

  • Book your trip as far out as possible.  I recommend starting to plan your trip 12-14 months before you want to check-in.  Holiday resort availability at Walt Disney World dwindles rapidly, plan as far out as possible.  If you are booking a DVC reservation, you definitely will want to book your trip as soon as your 11 month window opens up.  If having very specific dates are imperative to your trip, the farther out you plan, the better your life will be.
  • Research everything.  Even if you think you know everything about Disney World, check crowd calendars for your trip.  Most calendars are based off of empirical data collected by knowledgeable annual passholders, and change from year to year.
  • Know your windows, book as soon as they open.  Get a good coffee maker, because you'll want to wake up as soon as your 180-day and 60-day window opens if you want the best success with ADRs and FP+ choices.  Learn your dates, write them down in your planner.
  • Be flexible and keep an open mind.  Even if you plan everything out months in advance, holidays are tricky.  There will always be a chance that you can't book everything you want for exactly when you want it.  If there is something you desperately want, like a Slinky Dog Dash FP+ or a reservation at Be Our Guest, there's a possibility you may have to book it for a different day of your trip, which may conflict with other plans.  Just keep your priorities in order and go from there.

And finally... remember that planning these trips are a labor of love!  I know that the extra money I spent on coffee during those days where I had to wake up at 6:50 to book a FP+ or resort reservation will be so worth it when we finally get to sit down at California Grill on Thanksgiving after a great day at Magic Kingdom.  And we are so, so, so excited for Slinky Dog Dash.  :)


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

lifestyle post: september favorites

September always marks a crazy month in my life.  Back-to-school szn can be pretty stressful, especially for college students who have to pick up their lives and move back to their respective universities.  Being thrown back into the world of writing papers, on-campus jobs and philanthropy work is a huge adjustment. 

People love to talk about the "little things" in life.  Most people will tell you that it's the "little things" that brighten up a dull day.  And I completely agree with them!  It's the little things in life that makes the stress and monotony of day-to-day academia bearable (for me, at least).  So my post today is about all of the little things I've been obsessed with this month.  There's pixie dust and pumpkin spice to go around, so grab a seat and your favorite mug.

Erin Condren

This is the really big one this fall, so I figured I'd start here.  When your entire life is based around class assignments, a part-time job, and sorority events, you need a planner.  Erin Condren has saved my life with the Academic Planner.   

Let's start with the basic dimensions: The Erin Condren Academic Planner is a 7" x 9", 232 page, spiral-bound book.  It's chunky, but it's short (much like myself), and fits perfectly in my backpack among my laptop, charger, and notebooks.  There is so much that I love about this planner.  Being that this is a planner specifically for students, the layout is perfect for keeping your academic affairs in order.  The first 10 pages are for writing down notes about projects and exams, the 12-month calendar is unlabeled (which means you can start right from September, which I really loved), and even the weekly layouts are clean and crisp.  In typical Erin Condren fashion, the planner comes with a sheet of stickers in the back labeled for tests, projects, study groups, and more that you can stick on your monthly layouts.

I've been living in this planner.  I'm obsessed with it, I open it up and show it to everyone who will let me.  I think I just love the Erin Condren lifestyle?  As soon as I moved back into my dorm, I bought more accessories from their website.  One of the reasons I really enjoy Erin Condren is because it caters to my ~*~ natural gemini desire ~*~ for customization and change.  There are so many interchangeable covers, customizable stickers, and other accessories on their website that you'll never be bored with your planner again.  Invest in the Erin Condren life here. + Starbucks

Lip Smackers

At my school, anything you can find at our campus Starbucks-- mugs and apparel included --can be purchased with your meal plan money.  That makes it wise to get to the Starbucks on campus as soon as it opens on select days, because you can find a limited quantity of great finds, like the + Starbucks line of products!  I didn't know was partnering with Starbucks until I visited the Starbucks on my campus the day it opened for the semester.  I was thrilled to see the collaboration between my favorite coffee provider and one of the trendiest lifestyle brands on the market!  I've been all over pink this year (see also: my dorm), so I was drawn to this notebook and pencil pouch like a magnet.  The "sweater weather" design is the perfect blend of subtle and quirky.  I love it so much that I went back and bought that double-walled traveler the next day!  The entire collection is a must-have for anyone who loves fall and isn't afraid to show it.

Recently, I've been trying to make Lip Smackers a thing again.  Scrunchies, plastic chokers, and retro Nickelodeon t-shirts are in, so why shouldn't Lip Smackers follow suit?  Not only are they vintage and adorable, I was surprised to find out this week that the scent stays on your lips for a shockingly long time.  My favorite right now is the Oatmeal Cookie lip balm, it's the perfect fall flavor!  I also adore those glosses pictured above.  And of course-- no Lip Smacker is as iconic as the Dr. Pepper lip balm.  They're not expensive and they pair perfectly with a Lisa Frank folder, so please join me in my valiant quest to make Lip Smackers a staple in backpacks everywhere again.

Coffee Cozies

Coffee cozies are the perfect accessory for fall, and I'll tell you why.  I never go to class without a Starbucks drink in my hand, whether it's a a hot Salted Caramel Mocha or an iced PSL.  Coffee Cozies kill two birds in one stone.  If you're taking a hot drink, you have a reusable alternative for a wasteful cardboard sleeve!  If you're taking an iced drink, you can slide one of these on your cup and carry them around without worrying about the condensation getting on your hands!  They're the ultimate, functional accessory for a season that's too cold for iced tea in the morning and too hot for hot chocolate in the afternoon.

I have two favorite retailers!  Jacques and Gus Gus up there were purchased from Wonderland Treasure Co, and Maui was purchased from BLH Stitches.

While Starbucks is the topic at hand...

Custom MiCo Creation Cup

I really, really wanted a custom tinkerkait Starbucks cup, but I was in between a few sellers.  Ultimately, I am so glad I decided on MiCo Creation!  For starters: take a look at that clean-cut holographic vinyl!  The design couldn't be more perfect, nor could the quality of my project.  But more importantly, I had an amazing customer service experience with this shop.  I gushed about it on my IG!  Essentially, when I first received my cup, USPS had handled it so poorly that it was cracked everywhere and unusable.  When I messaged MiCo to see what we could do, Claudi sent out a new product with no questions asked and was so sweet about it.  She went above and beyond, and I can't wait to continue supporting her and her business!

If you need a custom cup (spoiler alert: you do), head over to MiCo Creation.

Mario Badescu Skin Care: Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater

The day after I moved back into school, my roommate (hi, Austin!) stopped me mid-makeup routine to generously offer a spritz of his Mario Badescu facial spray.  He claimed it primed makeup, set makeup, refreshed makeup, moisturized and calmed the skin.  At first, I was skeptical because I'm v. picky with the primers and setting sprays that I use.  But since I had forgotten my favorite setting spray at home, I decided I would give it a chance.  Ya'll... this spray means business.  I was working a 6-hour shift outside greeting new students as they moved into their dorm buildings, and I was so worried that my makeup would melt off.  It didn't budge thanks to Mario Badescu's spray of wonders.  I bought my own spray the next day at Urban Outfitters for the low, low price of $7 and I can't believe how much I've used it already.  I set my makeup with it every day.  I spray it on my hair once I step out of the shower and my hair smells like a rose garden all day.  I spray it on my face after I moisturize at night.  My skin has been feeling amazing for the past two weeks, I have a bottle of $7 setting spray that outlasts the $25 one I was previously using, and I have Mario to thank.  Get yourself to Urban and buy this spray ASAP.

... I bet you're surprised to see me posting on a Wednesday!  Don't worry: I'll be back Friday with another Walt Disney World related content piece for you.  But I want to know... how do you guys feel about surprise lifestyle posts once in a while, just to break up the Disney and update you guys about my life in Manhattan?  Let me know in the comments below, and of course-- tell me what your favorites this month are!

Friday, September 14, 2018

the 4 souvenirs I buy every time I visit walt disney world

Ever year, my family makes the thousand mile journey from New Jersey to Orlando, FL.  Walt Disney World is always changing, and we always have new things to do and try on our annual visits.  However, some things never change.  In the past four years, I've found myself buying the same four souvenirs every single trip.  It's a habit I've gotten into, and it always gives me something to look forward to and plan around!

I buy these four things every year because they're the perfect combination of things I need: they're functional enough to carry with me every day, but nostalgic enough to remind me of all the fun I had on my most recent trip "around the World."

A little piece of me is always left in Disney World... but carrying around these little pieces of Disney World makes the distance a little shorter!

#4- My Favorite Body Scrub

Image result for basin sugar scrubs
image courtesy of pinterest

I'm a sugar scrub fiend.  I love the way it makes my skin feel after I step out of the shower!  My favorite scrub comes from one of my favorite stores in Walt Disney World, Basin.  I like the Basin White at the Grand Floridian, but their flagship store at Disney Springs is cute, too!  These high quality scrubs will set you back at around $35 a jar, but they're massive and last me until I can get back to WDW again.  Basin always produces high quality products, and these scrubs are no exception.  My skin always feels amazing whenever I use Basin's blend of salt, shea butter, and luxury oils.  I purchased one as a gift for myself during my DCP, and found myself buying one right before I left Orlando in January 2017... then one again on our August 2017 vacation!

My favorite scent is Peppermint!  Not only does it remind me of Christmas time, but it's so revitalizing.

#3- A New Disney Vera Bradley Zip ID Case/Lanyard

Admittedly, I was never the biggest fan of the Vera Bradley for Disney Parks collection.  In fact, I've never been a big fan of Vera Bradley in the first place.  On my August 2015 trip, I bought a wallet from there that I didn't really love.  However, on my August 2017 trip, I fell head over heels in love with this Zip ID Case and Lanyard.  Look at the little Mickey silhouette carabiner!  With my student discount, I paid about $38 for both pieces of the set.  I use this lanyard every. day. of my life.  It's so cute, and it holds everything I need before I run to class!

Because Vera Bradley isn't the best quality, it has started to show quite a bit of wear-and-tear in the year I've used it.  But I don't mind.  I'll be back year after year to buy a new one!  You can only get the Vera Bradley for Disney Parks collection at the Vera store in Disney Springs, so if you're going to DS on your next trip, be sure to budget enough time to visit the store.  You won't regret it-- every employee there is the sweetest.

 #2- A New Keychain


Keychains started off as something I would buy every year, but not intentionally.  In 2010, I bought a Mickey Mouse one (that said 2010).  In 2014, I purchased an Ariel one to remind me of my favorite princess.  In 2015, I purchased a Tinker Bell one so that I'd always have my favorite pixie with me.  Throughout my college program, I bought, like, forty.  And finally, on my latest vacation trip, I bought a Polynesian Village Resort one because that was the trip where the Poly became my family's "home" resort, and I always wanted to carry a reminder of my home with me everywhere I went.

Keychains are awesome because they're inexpensive, you can find them almost anywhere at Walt Disney World, and you can find almost anything on them.  If you made a special memory on your trip, you can find a keychain to commemorate it.  That's why keychains have become a staple in my souvenir budget-- I can carry my favorite memory from every trip in my pocket wherever I go!

#1- Something Unique

Disney World has a lot of hidden stalls, stores, and kiosks all around the park that sell things you won't find anywhere else in Disney World.  Remember last week, in my post about all the apps you should have on your phone before you go to Disney World, when I talked about buying a souvenir you liked as soon as you saw it?  Well, every year, I find one of the smaller stores and do exactly that.  Last year, I bought a piñata.  A unicorn piñata, to be exact.  She's really tiny, and she sits on top of my dorm desk!  I found her at one of the stalls you'll find in the Mexico pavilion of the World Showcase.  She was handmade in Mexico, and she's only sold on property in one location.  If you tried to look for her on the Shop Disney Parks app, you wouldn't even find her!  

Buying something unique or even strange every trip is something I highly recommend doing.  In a Disney World full of mouse ears and mouse t-shirts, find the unicorn souvenir that nobody else has and make that purchase its own special memory.  Here she is, thriving on my Manhattan dorm desk.

Do you have a traditional purchase you like to make on your annual vacation?  How about a souvenir you're dying to buy on your next trip?  Let me know in the comments below!  


Friday, September 7, 2018

my favorite disney resorts at each level

Disney confession time: I cringe a little bit whenever I hear someone discussing the hotel they've chosen and describe it as "just a room to sleep in at the end of the night."

When you're planning out your Walt Disney World Resort vacation, you're obviously going to want to maximize your time in the parks.  Disney vacations aren't cheap, and even if you're there for a whole week, you're not going to get everything done.  From an overly-excited planner standpoint, you may think that your days are going to be filled with Theme Park magic from 8 AM-12 AM, with a short break from 1 AM-7 AM to crash on a bed.  The reality is different.  You're going to be spending a lot more time at your resort than you think.  For starters, consider the travel time it takes from your room to the transportation hub and how long you'll be waiting for said transportation to arrive.  Consider the needs of your travel party-- will a larger bathroom make things easier on your party of 5, or do you have a baby that might need extra space for a crib?  Finally, what are the odds that at some point during your vacation, someone in your party will want something to eat or need to buy something before the day has begun/after you're all settled into your hotel room for the night?

My point is that no matter how much your party is planning to spend in the park, your Resort hotel rooms are, at the very least, a little more than "just a room to sleep in at the of the night."  Every hotel on Disney property has its pros and cons, so I'm going to break down my favorite resort at each of the four Disney resort hotel levels for you.

The Disney Value Resorts have been a popular choice among families since they were first introduced in 1992.  The operative word here is value: going to Walt Disney World is expensive no matter how you slice and dice it, but Value resorts are objectively the cheapest on property.  My favorite Value resort is Disney's Pop Century Resort.

Image result for pop century resort
image courtesy of wikipedia

Let me start off by saying that there are problems at all of Disney's value resorts.  Because their price point makes them among the most accessible hotels on property, you sacrifice a lot of time and sleep when you stay here.  Each resort has a lot of buildings, and the buildings are spread out across a very large campus.  It could take you 10-15 minutes just to walk from your room to the hotel lobby.  Due to the popularity of the resorts, there is constant foot traffic around the resort.  This makes getting a good night's sleep difficult, as there's usually a lot of sound just outside of your hotel room, whether it's a crying child or just a luggage cart rolling by.  Of course every resort on property has its pros and cons, but these specific problems seem to be rampant at the value level.

With all that being said, I have a soft spot for Pop-C.  While the All-Stars have the lowest rack rate, they also draw the largest crowds and I don't like the design of their rooms.  Personally, I don't think the Art of Animation Resort should be classified as a value resort-- the resort is very expensive, even for the non-family suite Little Mermaid rooms.  Art of Animation certainly has the most immersive theming, but if you're on a budget, I really don't think it's worth the extra money per night.

Pop Century is the perfect medium.  Not quite as upscale as Art of Animation, but a step up from the All-Stars.  I love their newly renovated rooms, which offer a modern design styled with the same room technology used at Art of Animation.  I'm also a big fan of the Pop Century food court, Everything Pop, which hosts a large variety of stations to serve you hot food as fast as possible.

Admittedly, I'm not an expect on the Moderate resorts.  The moderates have a very business-class feel to them, and for good reason.  Coronado Springs and Caribbean Beach Resort are where employees set-up shop for a week of business conferences at the mouse house.  My favorite Moderate resort is Port Orleans: Riverside.

Image result for port orleans riverside
image courtesy of disney parks blog

I think it's worth saying right off the bat that I couldn't be paid to stay at Coronado Springs and CBR right now.  The construction going on at both resorts are so noisy and obstructive, there's no way I'd be able to stay there for a week and not get at least a little annoyed.  Caribbean Beach Resort has it really bad right now-- the food options are mostly outside, with a tent that hosts a breakfast buffet and a few food trucks.  I cannot imagine paying $172/night to stay there.

I don't think you can really go wrong with either Port Orleans: French Quarter or Port Orleans: Riverside, but my personal preference lies within Riverside.  At Riverside, there are warm beignets to eat and entertainment from Yehaa Bob.  French Quarter has a nicer pool, but they lack dining options.  Riverside also tends to see better discounts throughout the year, so you may be able to pay significantly less than you would for it's nearly identical twin sister.

I may be biased... but my favorite Deluxe resort is absolutely Disney's Polynesian Village Resort.  I mean, my family wouldn't own a contract there if we weren't so in love with it!  First of all-- I think all of the resorts on the monorail line are special.  My family loves Magic Kingdom, so we always appreciate having such fast and reliable transportation to get us there.  I think the dining options at the Poly are great, too.  We've never had a bad meal at 'Ohana, Kona Cafe, or even Cap'n Cooks!  I also want to mention that the Polynesian Cast Member team is an incredible group of people.  Everyone there is so friendly.  Every trip, I feel like I encounter a new CM who goes above and beyond in customer service.  The ambiance, the food, the people, the smell of the lobby... Disney's Polynesian Village Resort is home to me.

I do have to give a shout out to what I think is the best Deluxe Villas resort, Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort.  The Contemporary is a very close second on the list of my favorite Disney resorts on property.  They have some of the best dining options in all of Walt Disney World, and the hotel layout is brilliant-- everything is all in one building, so you never have to stray too far from anything!  Bay Lake Tower is a gorgeous, modern building with one of the coolest pools on property.  It's also home to the Top of the World Lounge, where Disney Vacation Club Members can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks.  Finally, one of the biggest draws to Bay Lake Tower is it's proximity to Magic Kingdom: you can walk from BLT to MK in less than 10 minutes!

Image result for bay lake tower
image courtesy of undercover tourist

I have some very strong opinions on Walt Disney World Resort hotels, but as always, I love hearing from my readers!  Whether you agree or disagree with me, talk to me in the comments below.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

disney says "see ya real soon" to single-use plastic: everything you need to know

First it was Starbucks, then it was McDonalds, and now it's Disney's turn: the Walt Disney Co. is committed to eliminating plastic straws and stirrers at their theme parks and on their cruise ships.  

Last year alone, Americans used 360 million straws a day, making them the 11th most found trash in the ocean.  Now companies are taking a stand against plastic straws, with initiatives to ban the single-use plastic spanning around the globe.  Historically, the Walt Disney Co. has exhibited a passion for conservation and care keeping of our planet.  Walt was a renowned animal activist and conservationist, which paved the way for Disney's Animal Kingdom.  DAK is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums-- which means that the zoological theme park at Walt Disney World Resort has exceeded standards in education, conservation, and research.  This makes Disney's announcement to completely eliminate plastic straws and stirrers by 2019 supplementary to their long-standing history with conservation efforts.  Disney Parks Blog wrote that the parks have also pledged to reduce the amount of plastic shopping bags at their parks and on their cruise lines, offering reusable shopping bags for "a nominal fee" instead, and will also be transitioning to refillable in-room amenities rather than single-use bottles.

You may be sitting there thinking, "Awesome!  Disney is committed to saving the turtles... but, what does this mean for me as a Parks guest?"  To which I say, don't worry.  Let me explain what you can expect in your future Walt Disney World Resort vacation (and what I suggest you do to help accommodate these changes!)

So first things first: no more plastic straws or coffee stirrers.  Disney has pledged to eliminate them by 2019.  Plastic straws, stirrers, and cup lids have always been banned at Disney's Animal Kingdom for the safety of the animals that call the park home, where paper straws were the norm.  Of course, Disney probably won't be using paper straws everywhere as a permanent solution.  Paper straws are a hassle for a lot of people, as they get soggy if they're left in a drink too long.  They're also not an ideal solution for disabled people who rely on plastic straws to drink independently.  Therefore, Disney will probably be spending some time reviewing all of the alternative straw options they have and developing the perfect solution for their parks.  If I had to take a guess, I'd say it's safe to assume that at some point, paper straws will be incorporated throughout the park until they figure out a permanent solution, with plastic straws still available for guests who need them.

Consider bringing reusable straws with you when you're vacationing to Disney.   Amazon has a few options for you!  You have these stainless steel ones, some nice silicone ones, and some reusable plastic ones.  I personally really enjoy the stainless steel ones.  Not only do they bend like plastic straws, but they come with little brushes so you can easily clean them at the end of the day!

Disney is also reducing the use of plastic bags in their parks.  So when you buy merch in the parks, you'll have the option of purchasing a reusable shopping bag.  This is a policy that the Disney Store implemented back in April in honor of earth day.  If you don't want to purchase a reusable bag at the counter, try carrying reusable bags with you.  Any type of reusable bag will do, but if you go to Target, Wal-Mart, or even your local dollar store, you're sure to find really cute plastic grocery totes with Disney characters on them.

Finally, Disney has pledged to make the switch from single-use toiletries in their resort guest rooms to refillable toiletries.  If you've ever stayed at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, you may be familiar with this sight:


So many guests throughout the year have loved collecting these little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and body wash from their resort bathrooms!  H20+ is Disney's signature line of in-room toiletries and spa products.  They always have the nicest scents, and their lotion leaves my skin feeling so soft!  It's no surprise that so many guests are upset that they will no longer be able to collect these tiny mementos and bring them home at the end of the day.  In the continued effort to cut down on single-use plastic, Disney will be opting to replace single-use bottles with refillable wall dispensers of product in their resort room showers.  Cool!  Unlimited shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion!

I recognize that some people may not welcome this change because it means you won't be able to take the single-use bottles home anymore.  Many guests enjoyed taking home the H20+ products as a reminder of their time at Walt Disney World.  If you desperately need to take home a bottle of your favorite H20+ product, you can find their full line for sale at your resort hotel merchandise location 😊


Friday, August 24, 2018

my ultimate mickey's not-so-scary halloween party touring strategy

So, you have tickets to the 2018 Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

Lucky, lucky you!  Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party was my favorite part of being in Walt Disney World Resort during the Fall season.  I loved MNSSHP so much that I went twice.  The shifts where I worked the parties, especially the shift where I worked on the treat trail, were some of my favorite parts of my entire program.

I'm sure you're thrilled to take in all of the amazing offerings these parties have!  Hard-to-meet characters, special entertainment, spooky snacks, and party-exclusive merchandise are all on the bill for you during your evening of not-so-scary fun!  If you're unaware of just how much fun is in store for you at MNSSHP, here's a handy link that contains all the information you'll need to know: 2018 Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

While you may be excited, you may also be feeling a little overwhelmed.  There are a lot of "must-do" experiences at MNSSHP, and you definitely want to get your money's worth.  Today I'm going to give you my ultimate touring strategy for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.  With this plan, you're sure to hit all of the best characters and entertainment at this special event.

A word of warning before you read... this strategy is entertainment heavy.  If you'd rather visit some of your favorite classic rides than meet characters, and you have no interest in seeing any of the special entertainment, this plan isn't for you!

With your ticket to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, you can get into Magic Kingdom starting at 4:00 PM.  If you are a DVC member, you can get in even earlier-- 2:00 PM!  In order to maximize the value of your ticket, I recommend getting to the Magic Kingdom gate about 15 minutes before you're allowed to go in.  They'll have an area where you'll queue up to get your wristband, and you'll be able to enter the park as quickly as possible.

Day of the party, before 4:00 PM

You are definitely going to want to plan your full day around this party.  First of all, this is one of those rare Disney days where you'll want to sleep in and have an easy morning.  I wouldn't plan FP+ for the morning, or plan to be in a park at all before you head to Magic Kingdom for the party. Even if you're a usual night owl, you're going to be exhausted by the time the party is over at midnight.  Enjoy an extra hour or two (or three!  I won't judge) of sleep, maybe get some breakfast delivered to your room so you can stay in the room and reserve your energy for the evening.  If there are any activities at your resort that you have your heart set on doing, you are definitely going to want to save them for the day of your party.

Just before you head out the door, you are definitely going to want to know where your party tickets are, and make sure your camera and phone fully charged with a fuel rod or other external battery on deck.  I found that my phone died at both of the parties I went to because I was posting on social media constantly and taking so many pics.  Don't forget your costume!  This is one of the only occasions where adult Disney park goers are allowed to wear costumes in the park, and it's always fun to see what people come up with.  If you'd rather wear something simple and practical, that's fine, but don't be afraid to go all out!  You'll rack in all the compliments.

I am always going to recommend that you eat a late lunch/early dinner between 2:30 and 3:00.  It should be the very last thing you do before you get to the party.  The last thing you want is to be in the middle of the Halloween party action and have to stop for a meal-- it could take up anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour of your precious party time (don't worry about getting hungry during the party-- you'll definitely have time to grab some of those great party snacks in this plan 😉).

If you have a monorail resort restaurant that you're dying to try, this may be a great opportunity to eat there.  I always recommend the Kona Cafe or the Grand Floridian Cafe, which will normally be empty around 2:00 and 3:00.  If not, grab a meal at your resort's quick service location and head right to the buses when you're done.

[DVC Members Only: Did you know that you're allowed to enter the park a whole two hours earlier with your MNSSHP ticket this year?  Get to the park at 2:00, grab your wristband, enjoy a favorite ride, and eat inside the park at around 3:00]

If you're at the Magic Kingdom entrance at 3:45, you're doing amazing.  They'll have an area for you to wait for before it's time to distribute wristbands and go inside.  Once you get your wristband, grab a drink from Starbucks, send a tweet about how excited you are, and then get ready to hit the ground running-- we are going to cover a lot of ground tonight.


Get in line to meet Jack and Sally OR the Seven Dwarfs

To me, it's really important to take advantage of one of these two meet and greets while you're at the party.  Jack and Sally only meet as a pair during the Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and they're a lot of fun to talk to, so I will always recommend taking advantage of their meet and greet during the party.  The Seven Dwarfs also meet during the Christmas Party, but if you're a Snow White fan, you might want to prefer meeting them instead.  Either way, it's hard to go wrong-- but you will absolutely want to get in line as soon as you have your wristband.  

The lines for these M&G will exceed wait times of three hours during the party, so it's really important to get in line as soon as you're able to.  With your wristband, you'll be able to start lining up for Jack & Sally at four PM.  In recent years, they've started the M&G between 5:00 and 5:30 PM to accommodate the popularity of the M&G.  If you get in line as soon as it opens, you should be done just before the party begins!  Yes, you'll still be waiting about two hours-- but you'll get your waiting in before the party starts, which leaves you more time to collect candy and enjoy special party entertainment.  When I met them, I got in line at 4:15, they came out at 5, and I met them at 5:30-- which left me so much party time!

With the Seven Dwarfs, the line won't be open until ~5:00.  Keep a close eye on the area, enjoy some nearby Fantasyland Attractions until you see that CMs have allowed people to start lining up.  I've found that the Dwarfs have a little bit of a shorter wait time for the Halloween parties.  I started lining up as soon as they allowed us to at 5, the Dwarfs came out at 6:15, and I met them around 6:30.


Merchandise, Candy, and Snack #1

Okay, now that you have M&G #1 out of the way, it's time to start collecting some party-exclusive swag!  With your wristband, you can start purchasing park merchandise

You will definitely want to pick up your merchandise as soon as possible.  I recommend visiting either the Emporium or Big Top Souvenirs, that's where you'll find the bulk of the party's special edition merchandise.  If I was going this year, I would absolutely want to get my hands on the Hocus Pocus Spirit Jersey.  Since it is the 25th anniversary of Hocus Pocus' release this year, Sanderson sister merchandise is out in full swing for the 2018 MNSSHP!  Grab a purchase, have it sent to your resort if you're staying on property, and then go collect some candy!

Trick-or-treating is definitely something you should take advantage of at least once during the party.  I know from my time at the parties that the candy mix is no joke-- Disney has the best mix!  My personal favorite stops are the Pirates of the Caribbean, the Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor, and above all, the Philharmagic-- where you can see spooky Disney movie clips playing on the screen as you collect your candy!

Remember what I said about having time to grab a snack?  Grab your first one now.  If you think you need a salty snack to balance out all the candy, try the Hades Nachos at Peco's Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe.  Ready for the sweet stuff?  If you do anything at this party, you have to try the Candy Corn Milkshake at Aunty Gravity's Galactic Goodies.

Image result for candy corn milkshake magic kingdom
Image Courtesy of Disney Parks Blog


Character M&G #2

By 7:30, consider getting in line for a second character M&G.  Some of the unique characters at the party won't have horrible lines tonight. It took me just under 40 minutes to see Cruella DeVil during my first party, and at my second party, I nearly walked up to Tarzan, Jane, and Terk!  If there's a character you know you want to meet that wasn't covered under Jack & Sally or the Seven Dwarfs, check out their line and do that now.


Hocus Pocus Villain's Spelltacular
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party holds my favorite Walt Disney World entertainment across the board.  It has my favorite fireworks (HalloWishes), favorite parade (Boo to You), and favorite castle show-- The Hocus Pocus Villain's Spelltacular!  You can't miss this hilarious musical performance featuring everyone's favorite witches.  If you're not hype during the finale, you can stop following this plan and do whatever you want for the rest of the night.  I promise.  

There are three showings of the Villain's Spelltacular, and I always prefer the first.  It's going to be crowded, so you'll want to get there as early as you can.  But the second one cuts too close to the second parade, and I was way too tired to stay for the last show, which started at midnight.


Space Mountain, more Trick-or-Treating

After you've stopped buzzing about how Winifred Sanderson just slayed your life, it's time for more party fun.  I'm not normally one to recommend visiting attractions during MNSSHP-- but this year, you have to see Space Mountain.  Do it for me.   Space Mountain gets a spooky holiday overlay for the party, where you'll enjoy a new soundtrack and all of the lights are turned off.  If you're in the mood for a slightly-terrifying pitch black Space Mountain, I highly recommend checking out this ride during the party.

Not in the mood for Space Mountain?  Totally cool.  Do M&G #3, enjoy the Monster-Scream-O-Ween ball, and collect some more candy.


Stake out your spot for HalloWishes!

HalloWishes starts at 10:15.  I'm not a huge fan of watching fireworks in general, and you can see HalloWishes from pretty much anywhere, so I just head over to Main Street and stand wherever there's available space for me 15 minutes before the show begins.  Of course, if HalloWishes is on your bucket list for the party, I recommend getting there early-- but even 9:45 seems too early to me, since the crowds are pretty easygoing on the nights where the party isn't sold out.  Enjoy the special projections and full-perimeter fireworks!


Stake Out Your Spot for the Boo To You Parade

As you can tell, I prefer the 11:15 Boo to You Parade to the 9:15 one.  It's going to be a lot less crowded than the first one.  I am also going to strongly recommend catching the parade from Frontierland.  Across from the Golden Oak Outpost is my favorite spot.  Main Street is a lot of fun with projections on the buildings and bubbles everywhere, but it's going to be very crowded, even at the later parade.  It's just not worth the hassle in my opinion.  The parade also kicks off in Frontierland-- which means you'll be the first to start and finish watching the parade, so you'll have more time to have Halloween fun!  The closer you are to Splash Mountain, the faster the parade will pass by, but keep in mind that some of the character you'll see have special dance routines that don't officially kick off until they reach a certain point down Frontierland.

30 minutes seems like a long time to be waiting for the parade to start, but I promise you that this parade is well worth it.  Go to the bathroom, have someone in your party collect those awesome cinnamon donut holes from Golden Outpost, and get your camera ready for a fun celebration of Disney's spookiest, silliest haunts.


Enjoy the rest of the party!

After you finish up with the parade, if you're in Frontierland, you should have about another half of an hour to do whatever you want that we haven't already covered.  And you will be surprised by just how much you can get done in that half hour, since the crowds will have thinned out a lot everywhere but Main Street USA.

If you are unsure what to do, and you haven't been to Liberty Square yet, I think that Liberty Square is 100% worth a visit during the Halloween Party.  Haunted Mansion gets even spookier, and the Mansion CMs get tricked out in ghostly face paint and cobwebs.  Special characters from the Mansion roam around and talk to guests, the fog is in full effect, everything about the ambiance just so perfect.  Even if you don't feel like jumping on the Haunted Mansion, it's so much fun to just be in the area, get some pictures in, and enjoy the entertainment.  

Grab another snack before you go, just for good measure!  And of course, on your way out, don't forget to stop on the Trick-or-Treat Trail once more just to make sure you go home with a camera full of pictures and a bag full of candy.  👍

Have you done Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Before?  What are you can't-miss party offerings and tips for first-timers?  Let me know in the comments!


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