Disney

Kristy's Top 5 List - Disneyland Edition

Every fall, The Haunted Mansion transforms into Haunted Mansion Holiday. It’s one of my family’s favorite Disneyland attractions!

Every fall, The Haunted Mansion transforms into Haunted Mansion Holiday. It’s one of my family’s favorite Disneyland attractions!

From time to time, I’ll be sharing Top 5 lists about my favorite things - destinations, resorts, beaches, food… I hope you enjoy! ~ Kristy

Top 5 Things To Love about Disneyland Resort

5. I absolutely love that Disneyland Resort is an entirely “walkable” destination. There are no buses, Ubers, or boats required to get from point to point. This means you can get where you are going fast. If you’re staying at a Disney hotel, you could leave your hotel room and be on a ride in less than 15 minutes!

4. Speaking of hotels, Disney owns three hotels at the Disneyland Resort. The Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier, and, my personal favorite, Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa. Each of these hotels have a very unique feel but I’m particularly drawn to the Grand Californian - probably because it was designed by the same architect that designed Disney’s Wilderness Lodge!

3. As a Walt Disney World veteran, mostly due to living on the east coast, there is something incredibly familiar but, at the same time, very different about visiting the Disneyland Resort. There are many attractions that are similar to those with the same name in Florida but offer very different experiences. As an example, It’s a Small World in Florida is an entirely indoor experience - at Disneyland it’s both indoor and outdoor. Space Mountain in Florida is a rough ride with a “rickety” feel and in California it’s a much smoother ride with slightly different views. Pirates of the Caribbean is quite different too!2. Haunted Mansion Holiday… The original Haunted Mansion attraction opened in the New Orleans Square area of Disneyland park in 1969. It’s a classic for sure but for several months out of the year the mansion is transformed and Jack Skellington takes over. With characters and music from The Nightmare Before Christmas joining the 999 original happy haunts, it’s a unique experience available from September to January each year.

The Cadillac Mountain Range at night. Carsland at Disney California Adventure park.

The Cadillac Mountain Range at night. Carsland at Disney California Adventure park.

2. Carsland. I can’t find the words to accurately describe how incredible this area of Disney California Adventure Park is. You have to see it to understand just how breathtaking it truly is.

1. Walt Disney himself designed and built Disneyland. The feeling of nostalgia as you walk in his footsteps (there is actually a guided '“Walk in Walt’s Footsteps” tour) is overwhelming. The park was carefully crafted to be a place where parents and children could have fun together and even today, after more than 60 years, it’s an amazing place to visit and spend some time.

Where to Stay, Where to Stay?

Where to stay, Where to stay........ I was recently asked by a close friend, how do we make up our mind on where we are going to stay when we vacation at Walt Disney World? This question gave me pause, because we have stayed at almost every resort... including Ft. Wilderness, so we no longer have a quest to fulfill. After thinking about it for some time, I had to turn the question back  to her and ask " well how do you decide? We are no different."

That's what I want to chat about this week. How do you pick a resort when you are staying on property at Walt Disney World? There are over 34 resorts on property, and 28 are actually owned and operated by Walt Disney Parks. They range from value to deluxe. As you can image, the deluxe category resorts come with a higher price tag; but, also have more features and amenities. The greatest of which is the convenience  of their location.

When choosing a resort, I think it is important to, of course, first consider your budget.  You never want to over extend yourself so much that you don't have enough money to enjoy extras in the parks. However, I disagree with individuals that say stay in the cheaper rooms because you spend so little time there. Your family may be the type that stay in the park from park opening to park closing; but, when you do make the trek back to your resort... wouldn't your prefer a 10 min walk to Disney's Contemporary Resort after a long day at the Magic Kingdom? You are already in bed and asleep, while most of the guests are still waiting on a bus to the value resorts.

Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the value resorts. The theming is fantastic and Disney has made these resorts a lot of fun for kids, with out ever going to a theme park. There are tons of free activities at the pools, movies on the lawn every night and some even offer art classes. You always want to check the activities schedule at the resort to see what special  happenings are going-on.

Another thing we think about when considering resorts, is what is the focus of our trip? Meaning... are we going during Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival; if so, then we will probably stay close to Epcot. If you are going to be traveling during the holidays, I would recommend staying at one of the resorts known for their holiday decorations like Disney's Wilderness Lodge or Disney's Grand Floridian, they are both stunning. If you are visiting during the summer months, and it is going to be HOT, then consider a resort that has a great pool. The best pool on property is Disney's Beach Club, hands down! It has a pirate themed water slide, a lazy river, sand bottom pool, and even a beach. All the pools at the moderate resorts and higher have a water slide at the main pool so it adds an extra layer of fun to the standard pool.

There are a lot of resorts to choose from, but one thing is for sure, you can't go wrong when you stay inside the bubble of Walt Disney World. I hope this helps you narrow down your search for the best resort.

See you soon!

Gina

Disney's Grand Floridian has the most magnificent Christmas tree.

Disney's Grand Floridian has the most magnificent Christmas tree.

Here is just a portion on Disney's Beach Club epic pool! You can't even seen the pirate ship off to the right behind the trees.

Here is just a portion on Disney's Beach Club epic pool! You can't even seen the pirate ship off to the right behind the trees.

Epcot's World Showcase, it's not just for adults

I often hear people say  "We are going to skip Epcot because the kids will think its boring" or " We are just doing the front part of Epcot because the kids will get bored in all the countries". There are over 10 countries represented in the World Showcase, 11 to be exact and then there is the African Outpost which is not counted as a true showcase pavilion. Within each one of these pavilions there are multiple food options and yes, adult beverages to be enjoyed. It seems most people know that piece of information but they don't know  there is a lot more to offer in each one of these pavilions. Well, I am writing this blog to dispel all those myths and let you know that Epcot's World Showcase is for children of all ages.

Did you know that the World Showcase has the most number of character meet and greets than any other location in Walt Disney World?  Your children can not only meet rare princesses like Mulon and Snow White but you can also meet Mary Poppins and Alice! You can find these character spots and times located in the My Disney Experience App. We have had some of the best character interactions at these meet and greets.  Don't be embarrassed about getting in the pictures with your children. I must admit I was aw struck the first time I met Mary Poppins!

Another unique experience within the countries is the Kidcot Fun Spot Stations. These are tucked away benches and tables with a cultural exchange cast member that interacts with children and helps them create a craft and some will even write your Child's name in the cast members language. Each station has a stamp of the country's flag and if you get every country's stamp you can get a completion stamp. One of the best things about this activity,  it is absolutely FREE! Yes that is right something at Walt Disney World is Free. So while you are taking a break and enjoying an adult beverage or a quiet spot in the shade, your kids are entertained.

If your children are more into their phones and playing games then give Agent P's World Showcase Adventure a try. This is another FREE activity that is so much fun for kids to take part in and they get a great tour of the World Showcase. You start the adventure by checking in at one of the kiosk located near the International Gateway (Epcot's back entrance) or  the Odyssey Bridge. Check in with the Cast Member and they will explain how everything works and get you started on your secret mission around the World Showcase.

While you are traveling around the World don't forget to stop in to the different shops in each country, you can find some of the most unique souvenirs. For example the Mitsukoshi department store in Japan has all the latest in Japanese pop culture and some of the most unique food snacks on property. I recommend the shrimp chips!  In the China Pavilion shop you can purchase a traditional fan and the cast members will write your name in Chinese on the fan. It's a great unique gift. Then there is the pastries and ice cream in France! OH MY Word it is so good. Do you have soccer fans in your family or BBC TV fans? Then the stores in Great Britain are a must stop. Every country offers something diverse and interesting to stop and look at. Ok maybe not every country, in my opinion the shop in Italy is just kinda meh, it doesn't excite me. 

As you can see there is much more to Epcot's World Showcase than just adult beverages and museum exhibits. There is something for everyone and all ages. So the next time you are planning your Epcot day consider the World Showcase for more than just a stop for Frozen Ever After, I promise there are so many more interesting things to explore.

See you again Soon!

Gina 

Here is the most recent version of what is available at the Kidcot locations. 

Here is the most recent version of what is available at the Kidcot locations. 

Collect these great cards from each country and on the back there is a cute picture you can color and personalize.

Collect these great cards from each country and on the back there is a cute picture you can color and personalize.